Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines Album Review

Here’s my recent review of the new Gama Bomb album, which appeared on the Ever Metal website.  Reproduced here with permission; enjoy! 

Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines

AFM Records

Release date: 12/10/2018

Running time: 35.07

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Hello and welcome to Thrash School.  For today’s lesson, you will need:

  • Skin tight jeans (preferably with ripped knees)
  • Faded Acid Reign t-shirt
  • Studded leather belt and 1x studded leather wrist band
  • White hi-top leather Converse
  • Black leather jacket (denim vest over jacket optional)
  • Baseball cap with “NOT” written under the peak

Because today we will be listening to the new album by Gama Bomb, entitled “Speed Between the Lines”.

These merry metallers have an uncanny ability to rewind the cassette of time to a simpler age.  It’s like grunge never happened.  Instead, we get twelve face-lacerating tunes that rush by in uncompromising fashion.  This is thrash metal, kids, buckle up for the ride.

Eighties thrash was often pre-occupied with party bum-out vibes like nuclear destruction.  Apparently, it’s a post-Cold War world though, so these boys don’t wallow in misery for too long.  Not that they don’t have a social conscience: witness the admirable stab at the current political climate in “Alt Reich”.

But they’re just as happy dedicating an ode to Kurt Russell, which is perfectly justified in my opinion.  Kurt is, of course, an icon of twentieth century popular culture.  Not convinced? Go watch The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China and you can thank me later.

Back to the music.  Although diversity isn’t Gama Bomb’s strong point – Master of Puppets this ain’t – the listener is rewarded with a dozen tracks that speed by relentlessly.  The musicianship is amazing, with blitzkrieg lead guitar all over the place.

The occasional change of pace would add some additional colour, but you can’t fault the commitment and enthusiasm of this band.  This album is the full package with cool themes and some of the best song titles I’ve heard in a long time (666teen? Give them an award NOW).  The music is intense and exciting in equal measure, bringing to mind classic Overkill, Anthrax and Nuclear Assault.

So dig out your old Variflex skateboard and ask your big brother’s mate to buy you a two litre bottle of cider from the Co-op.  With Gama Bomb you can party like it’s 1987.  This history lesson is over.

Visit the Ever Metal website here.

Corrosion of Conformity Gig Review

Corrosion of Conformity

Saturday 7th March 2015

Manchester Academy 2

I’ve been a Corrosion of Conformity fan for a long time.  Starting with a cassette copy of their hardcore punk/thrash crossover Eye For An Eye back in my early skateboarding days; through their major label success as a stoner metal band; and on.  Never seen them live, though.  Ridiculous, no?

All that was about to change: I decided to get my act together and go see the band in Manchester for their latest tour.  The fact that vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan was back fronting the band, completing their Deliverance era line-up, was a nice little sweetener too.

The afternoon got off to a great start when, mere seconds from arriving in the car park next to the Academy, I spotted bass player Mike Dean walking along the road.  I greeted him and wished the band well in a brief, pleasant conversation.  I think I managed to remain cool and not look like a total weirdo.

A few beers were had in the early evening, before we made our way to the venue.  Unfortunately we were in Manchester Academy 2, not the nice big main Academy building.  The Academy 2 is the size of a sports hall and was too small for this band.  People were crammed in tighter than a glam rockers spandex pants; it was not cool.

I only caught the end of the support bands slot, so I will pass judgement on Hang the Bastard at this time. COC

When Corrosion of Conformity hit the stage, there’s a genuine sense of excitement in the (tiny) room.  They open with instrumental “These Shrouded Temples” from the Blind album, before charging into “Senor Limpio” and “King of the Rotten”.  There’s hardly a breather between songs, and minimal banter – it seems COC are on a mission to destroy.  Pepper leads the band confidently, like he’s never been away; whilst Woody throws down a barrage of guitar.

In keeping with the tour theme, there’s a healthy chunk of tracks from the devastating Deliverance album.  This is fine with me.  My sad fanboy credentials mean I love all their output, but Deliverance is the cream of the crop as far as I’m concerned.  A genuine metal/punk/stoner/doom/whatever classic, rated in the same bracket as Volume 4 and Master of Puppets.  “Albatross” and “My Grain” are highlights amongst a head crushing set, though the slower pace of “Seven Days” is my favourite from that era of the evening – forgot how great that song is.

There’s a pinch of tracks from across several albums, with “Long Whip/Big America” shining from Wiseblood.  “Thirteen Angels” (America’s Volume Dealer) and “Paranoid Opioid” (In the Arms of God) also stand out in a set filled with gems.  The band are well rehearsed – Reed’s drums and Mike’s bass sound tight and locked in.

COC return for their encore with “Broken Man”, before launching into the inevitable “Vote With a Bullet”.  This song is still an absolute monster, and is welcomed heartily by the audience.  “Clean My Wounds”, another Deliverance era stormer, finishes the night off with it’s awesome riff.

Despite being crowded in the tiny Manchester Academy 2, it’s a great night.  Corrosion of Conformity perform a powerful set, which I only wish could have been longer.  I got to tick a band off my “must see” list tonight, and I retire with obligatory tour t-shirt a very happy punter.

Winter Rocks – Canada

Way back when I started this blog, the very first post in the Music section was about Scandinavian bands/artists.  I was inspired by the cold weather in early 2013 to listen to music from Scandinavia as a theme for the winter months.

Two years on and I needed another theme for this winter’s music homework.  So despite no (or very little) snow, I went with another northern country and chose Canada.

Now I’m sure that the summer weather in Canada is very nice, but without falling prey to stereotypes, the theme fits.  Plus there are loads of artists from that country to fill my playlist.

Here they are:

  • Alanis Morissette
  • Annihilator
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • Black Mountain
  • Bryan Adams
  • Cancer Bats
  • Cauldron
  • Death From Above 1979
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • The Guess Who
  • Neil Young
  • Nickleback
  • Rush
  • Shania Twain
  • SNFU
  • Steppenwolf
  • Voivod

There you go: a fairly eclectic mix of everything from country to thrash metal.

My thanks to Matt Barnes, who introduced me to quite a few artists on this list (but not Shania or Alanis…).

Did I forget anyone?  Leave further Canadian music suggestions in a comment below.

Platinum Al’s Platinum Artists

There are over 23,000 songs in my iTunes library.  Hundreds of artists across numerous genres.  But which artists have contributed the most to my music collection?  I’ve reviewed all of them and compiled a list of which artists I have the most songs by.  Some may surprise you.

The list below comprises the twenty artists with the most number of songs in my music collection at the moment.  The list grows all the time.  I should point out that this isn’t a list of my favourite artists in order, just a list of who’s music I have the most of.

All duplicate tracks (for example, a hit single appearing on an album and a Greatest Hits compilation) have been removed.  Also extended versions, remixes and so on are usually not in my library anyway – with a few exceptions.  And I generally don’t collect live albums – again with one or two exceptions – so duplicates of this type don’t generally figure in this list, unless there’s a particular reason for them to be here.  In many cases, there are more tracks to be added for these Top 20 artists.

Here they are:

Top 20 Bands with the Most Songs in my Collection

20. Clutch – 128 songs

A massive contribution from this fine Maryland band, with only one track duplicated (an alternative, acoustic version of “Motherless Child”).  This doesn’t include their great new album “Earth Rocker”, which isn’t added yet.

19. Danzig – 130 songs

The mighty Danzig makes a respectable appearance at number 19, thanks to a complete collection of studio albums and a helping hand from the “Lost Tracks of Danzig” compilation.  This figure does not include any Misfits or Samhain tracks either, as I’ve classed them in this case as separate entities.  Otherwise Glenn would be even higher up the list.

18. David Bowie – 133 songs

Spanning most of Dave’s career, but still with quite a few albums missing from my collection – so this number could increase.

17. Hawkwind – 148 songs

Admittedly, this figure does include live tracks – but then “Space Ritual” is such an integral part of the bands persona it has to be included.  Still many, many more albums to collect though.

16. The Beach Boys – 149 songs

What a band.  I’ve loved the Beach Boys for so long.  There are so many great album tracks beside the obvious hits, everyone should investigate them further.  I still have at least three albums to add here though, so a Top Ten position could be on the way in future updates.

15. AC/DC – 153 songs

All the albums, no live tracks – surprising though that there isn’t more from the mighty AC/DC.  Several of their albums also appear in my “Greatest of All Time” list, no doubt coming soon…

14. Red Hot Chili Peppers – 154 songs

One of the best bands ever.  Not just one of the best alternative bands, or one of the best funk rock (ugghh) bands – one of THE best bands ever.  I’m surprised they don’t come in higher on this list, however, given the massive amount of work they’ve produced.  Their best album? A debate for another time.  But it’s “Mother’s Milk”.  No, “BloodSugarSexMagic”.  No, “Mother’s…”, ah, we’ll see.

13. Metallica – 159 songs

Now this number does include the live album “S & M”, though as those tracks are accompanied by an orchestra (and therefore sufficiently different) I decided to include them.  Also includes their totally mental collaboration with Lou Reed – which everyone hates except me.

12. The Damned – 163 songs

Ah, The Damned.  Probably my most favourite band ever, this number includes all the albums, plus compilations of B-sides etc, from “Damned Damned Damned” to “So Who’s Paranoid”.  But remember, no duplicates – so for example “New Rose” only appears once (on the original album) – reappearances on the (many) compilations have been discounted.

11. The Rolling Stones – 165 songs

Only 165 songs?  Clearly, I have some work to do here.  There must be another 30 or so albums to get.  This includes all the greats though.  And the debate over their best songs and albums will be tackled in a future post.

And now the Top Ten…

10. Iggy Pop – 177 songs

A fantastic, under rated musician.  Not nearly well known or respected enough these days. This number includes all the Stooges albums, as I decided that to exclude them would deprive a historical view of Iggy of some important milestones.  Iggy rocks.

9. Beastie Boys – 183 songs

You’re surprised that the Beasties have recorded so much?  Don’t be.  And the quality is excellent throughout.  Includes all of their forays into different musical genres, such as the fantastic “In Sound From Way Out” album.

8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – 185 songs

I still have a few albums to collect from Nick Cave.  The 185 songs includes the three disc “B-sides and Rarities” album, but no Birthday Party, Grinderman or film soundtracks.  Maybe I’ll add those to a future update.  Amazing music.

7. Queen – 191 songs

“Greatest Hits I and II” is not enough.  You need the studio albums for some of the outstanding lesser known compositions.  More on this in a later post.  No live tracks included.

6. Ramones – 199 songs

There are just a couple of bonus tracks from “End of the Century” I don’t have.  No live tracks included.  I’ve loved this band ever since my English teacher played “Go Mental” in class.

5. Alice Cooper – 204 songs

Often maligned as a cock-rock Metal caricature, many miss the impact that Alice has had on rock, punk and alternative music.  Pay this man some respect.  NOW.  Still loads of albums I don’t own, but I’m working on it.

4. The Beatles – 207 songs

I was surprised I had this many tunes by The Beatles, but what a band.  Beyond compare, and I’m happy to see them up near the top of the list.  This number doesn’t include my Mum’s original 7 inch singles, of course.

3. Motorhead – 221 songs

How many albums have Motorhead made now?  Not enough.  Recent output has been just as great as the early years.  Still got two or three albums I need to get though, unbelievably.

2. Melvins – 282 songs

I love this band.  282 songs, including collaborations with Jello Biafra and others.  Doesn’t include the new record “Everybody Loves Sausages” (yet), and still quite a few albums (not just single tracks!) I need to track down.

So which recording artist has the most songs that I own?  Who could possibly top that list?  Only one man…

1. Johnny Cash – 330 songs

That number doesn’t include the Christmas album or a new three disc set I picked up recently.  A duets album with June Carter Cash is in there, however.  And the two live albums “At Folsom Prison” and “At San Quentin” – as they’re both indispensable.  I am a huge fan of Johnny Cash, and thankfully there’s still loads of his music out there for me to discover.

Johnny Cash is my hero.

Any thoughts?  Disagree with any of the above criteria?  Leave a comment.