Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Disclaimer

I'm doing a sort of 'Best Music of 2014' type thing.


I'm a little busy / disorganised so this is going to be a round-up of the bands, albums and singles that gave me the most pleasure during the year. With that in mind, a lot of the music will be from 2014, but some of it will be a little older.

It isn't going to be an organised list with top ten and an overall winner, but an ongoing thing for a short while as I remember all the great stuff I've listened to this year.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Album Review : Tothem - Beyond The Sea

Tothem are a five piece symphonic dark rock outfit with true operatic vocals from singer Roslen. The band hail from Rome and are signed to the Canadian Maple Metal record label. They have released one EP, and Beyond The Sea is their first full length release.

I think I've summed up Tothem's style with the symphonic and operatic genre tags, the band don't stray into full blown metal, preferring a harmonic gothic sound and Roslen's high and crystal clear vocals are the very antitheses of the growling and screaming so prevalent in the metal scene today.

The highlights of what is a pretty accomplished debut outing are the initial single release, The Witch, with its sing-a-long intro and choppy guitar work and the more up-tempo opening track Run To You which alternates Roslen's best vocal work with some headbang inducing rhythms. Fight With You has a wonderful flow and feel as Tothem demonstrate some great changes in pace and timing leading up to a thundering conclusion. Tothem demonstrate their obvious musical ability throughout the album, layering and interchanging the guitars and keyboards to allow varying spates of pounding rock with gently flowing rhythmic sections highlighting the vocals. It's this understanding of pace, tempo and variation which makes almost all of the album a solid success.

If you're a fan of Nightwish or Within Temptation then there is a lot on Beyond The Sea to enjoy, a similar feel and musical style perhaps, but Roslen's operatic vocal performance really takes Tothem into a genre of their own. Welcome to Italian operatic goth, it's an enchanting place to be.

Tothem Facebook

Mapel Metal Records

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Sunpilots


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Album Review : The Boy In The Attic (Self Titled) EP

Well this is rather good, in fact, some of this is better than rather good. I'm getting stupidly excited over some of the tracks that The Boy In The Attic have created for this, their debut EP.

The Boy In The Attic are based in Wexford, Ireland. I gather the band are having some personnel changes right now so I won't give a who's who. I do hope though that they find some new band members and get settled down because there are moments of great promise on their initial release.

Drop Your Disguise shows a little too much straight post-rock influence to be special, but interest in the EP picks up on Black Out The World where TBITA move gracefully through some nice changes in pace and the vocals have a ring of early Biffy Clyro styling about them. The Illusion Of Reality steps up a gear, a calm intro turns into a headlong charge with layered lead and support vocals and breakdowns that serve as bridges rather than halting the music in its tracks.

Step Into The Future opens with a rolling riff that provides a ridiculously catchy hook throughout the song, the vocals come in and then, BOOM! The chanted refrain of "The future ain' ain't what it used to be", well that's just designed for packed concert halls to bellow that line back at the band. Bloody wonderful!

Closing track Winding Stairs again demonstrates the chanted refrain style the band have worked on, but this time the song is more melodic hard rock with a delicious bouncing guitar riff.

This is exciting stuff, on the best tracks the Irish band show real skill and promise combined with great song writing, they understand that a band needs changes in tempo while still maintaining an underlying style. I'm enjoying this EP a lot, fingers crossed that TBITA survive as band.

Get the EP free from The Boy In The Attic Soundcloud


Eclipse Records

A big thank you today to the very kind folks at Eclipse Records who sent me some free albums this morning, this is almost like being a proper rock journo again. Eclipse popped two albums in my inbox this morning from two of the bands on their roster, Blowsight and A Breach Of Silence. I will post reviews over the next week or so.

Rock The Charts currently has 2,600 followers and we are actively promoting new and emerging music to our followers. Out music selection might be eclectic, we're posting videos from the lightest emo pop-rock through to the most brutal death metal, so along the way we're sure that there will be some new bands that you will enjoy.

This week we teamed up with Erupt The Volcano to promote a single by UK rockers States of Panic. The ETV crew tell me that the single has reached #63 on the Amazon chart last night. We'll continue promoting 'Gun To My Head' until the charts are released on Sunday. Fingers crossed.

Bands - do keep on getting in touch, I'll review as much music as possible, and keep on nudging me to share videos and gig news, I'm very busy / absent minded so polite reminders are good.

Followers - we're still looking for both admins for the Facebook page, and some writers / bloggers / reviewers to make the blog a bit busier. Get in touch.

Everyone - keep on sharing us, the more we have, the more reach YOU have, it's a win-win thing.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Q & A with Derek Close

Now obviously I cannot fly around the world to meet all the bands I want to talk to, and due to having an actual job, different time zones and the bands' work commitments it is easier at the moment to e-mail a few questions. I did this with Derek and he played it poker faced, answered all the questions directly and with tongue slightly in cheek and a cheeky glint in his eye...

Tell us how the band name came about, what does it mean.

Band name histories are usually quite interesting.  Mine is no exception.  Some time ago Mr. & Mrs. Close had a baby boy.  After some deliberation they came down to 2 names:  Tom and Derek.  Mr. Close came into the hospital room and told Mrs. Close that his name would be Tom.  He left and then came back in and said, "Derek".  He left and returned with Tom.  Once again he went out and came back in.  "Derek".  He left.  The doctor came in and asked what the name was going to be.  Mrs. Close shrugged her shoulders and said, "Derek".  The doctor left and Mr. Close came back in and said, "Tom".  Mrs. Close told him that it was too late and that his son's name was Derek.  Derek Close grew up, learned to play music, went solo and named his band after himself.

Derek is derived from the German name Theodoric which means "ruler of the people".  Close means "not far" or "nearby" so Derek Close means "nearby ruler of the people".

Tell us about the best thing(s) that has happened to the band so far.

Some of the best things that have happened over the years is that I've had the opportunity to play with some outstanding musicians and meet a lot of cool people.  Most recently it's been really exciting to have people being very receptive to my music and getting some airplay on indie stations around the net.  The positive feedback has been very encouraging.

Tell us about the worst / funniest thing that has happened to the band so far.

The funniest thing that has happened to me in the world of music occurred at my very first gig.  The band I was playing with got the opportunity to open for an up and coming local band at the time.  We were extremely nervous.  Our set was received by the audience with arms wide open.  After the show our guitarist came up to laughing because kids were coming up to him asking for his autograph and guitar lessons.  I thought it would be cool to sign an autograph so I started keeping an eye out for potential signature seekers.  One kid made eye contact with me, got an excited look on his face and said, "Hey!  Do you know what time it is?"

Tell us something about who your favourite bands / musicians are, who inspired you to get involved with music.

80's metal is what inspired me to get involved with music.  I heard the song Blackout by the Scorpions and I was hooked.  I wanted to play!  My favorite musicians/bands include: Joe Satriani, Stu Hamm, Angelica, Extreme, Altar Bridge, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Tony MacAlpine, Gary Hoey, the original Queensryche and Metallica.

Tell us anything else, make it interesting, funny and attention grabbing rather than a ‘please buy our album’ pitch. (We’ll pimp your album anyway)

What's interesting, at least to me is that my new album, The Beta Sessions won't officially release until 2/18/14.  At the time of my writing this, the CD artwork is still going through proofing.  Despite that I'm already moving on to the next project rather than waiting to see what the current release does.  What is the next project?  Well a lot of it is up in the air but I may be moving toward a full band rather than flying solo.  Going solo is cool and all but I really miss the camaraderie that comes with a good group of musical buddies.  Besides, when you're solo you don't have anybody to fight with.

Thanks for that Derek, it's always nice to have someone verbose and amusing to do these things.

Derek Close Facebook
Derek Close on Twitter

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

States Of Panic

So I said we wouldn't push a band until late March, but, great minds think alike and it turns out that there is another UK group up and running with much the same idea as ours.

Erupt The Volcano are pushing a band every week with the intention of charting a single by them. Same plan, different time scale.

We will be throwing our weight behind the ETV campaign, so this week we are asking you to part with 79p to purchase the single 'Gun To My Head' by UK band States Of Panic.

Buy 'Gun To My Head' from I-tunes

Can we rock the charts ? Let's have a go. I bought my copy this morning.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Album Review : Ancient Blood - Damnation and Bloodlust EP

Now normally black metal isn't my thing, but the nice chaps from Ancient Blood sent me their debut EP, and you know, I'm rather impressed.

Ancient Blood hail from Monterray in Mexico (they love Rock The Charts in Mexico, Mexico is just behind the UK and USA in where our followers reside), they have been together since 2008 but the Damnation and Bloodlust EP is their first release.

The Mexican four piece have really nailed the melodic black metal sound, pounding, sometimes blast beat drums, a singer that sounds as if he were dredged up from the blackest pits of Hell and walls of guitars providing a fearsome noise. Ancient Blood do understand timing through, and this isn't an all out speed assault on your ears, the boys can play at breakneck speed, but they also slow down and allow nice patterns of variation into their music. This is particularly noticeable on Shadows Of Doom with its extended mid-pace section.

There are shades of Emperor and hints of Cradle of Filth here. The unsettling choral vocals supporting Dracul Malfeitor's guttural singing add depth and interest to each song as does allowing Darcul's keyboards to replace guitar solos in some parts.

I think this is a pretty accomplished slab of black metal. It'll upset your Mum, scare the dog and have you wearing corpse paint in no time, well done, good effort lads.

You can download the EP for free at the Ancient Blood page.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Brit Awards - Where's The Rock ?

The list of nominees for the Brit Awards is out, and as always, as with nearly all mainstream music interaction, we have to ask WHERE'S THE ROCK ?

At the very lightest / most indie end of the rock scale Bastille, The Arctic Monkeys and Kings Of Leon all have a look in, but where are the bands that can pick up a guitar and really know how to use it ?

In the category 'British Album Of The Year' - One band I say, Black Sabbath's '13', the album reached the #1 position in nine countries and shifted truckloads, is one of our greatest ever British bands represented at the Brits ? No. Perhaps 'All Hell Breaks Loose' by Black Star Riders have been nominated ? It's a cracking rock album packed with catchy riffs and strong songs. What about Motorhead's 'Aftershock' ? But no, the album category is populated with the radio friendly unit shifters, because this is how the Brits work.

I'm not really criticising the Brits, although I think that dropping the Rock category back in 2007 was a mistake. It isn't as if bands in the rock spectrum never get any success here either, in recent history The Darkness, Foo Fighters and Manic Street Preachers have all won (and we're not counting Oasis and Kaiser Cheifs are we?)

Across the rock and metal media writers have been complaining that the bands that were huge 20 years ago are still the bands that are huge today, and that new acts are rarely breaking through to massive status. Should we shoulder some of the blame ourselves ? Do we all download too much and therefore make it harder for young bands to survive on a decent financial basis ? Probably.

This then is also part of our mission, to get singles by new rock and metal bands into the mainstream charts. By charting singles we will get them airplay on the big networks, by getting airplay we will open them up to a much wider audience and some of that audience will find something they like. I'm not daft, I don't believe that we can convince the legions of Beilebers and Directioners to suddenly gain an all consuming love for brutal black metal but if people hear more rock and metal then they might find that they actually like some of it.

We shouldn't shun the mainstream and pretend it doesn't matter to us. The mainstream record and media companies are vital tot he continuing promotion and success of the types of music that we love. You don't think so ? Were you watching black metal on YouTube ? See the connections. The big players can help the small ones, albeit unwittingly.

Let's re-engage with the mainstream, together let's help our favourite new bands to survive and thrive, together we can Rock The Charts.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Q & A with The Black Thunder Revue

This week Rock The Charts are featuring The Black Thunder Revue from just down the road in Sheffield, BTR are a four piece melodic rock outfit with a bluesy feel. This week we got together with band for a quick chat, Andy Davison - guitar and vocals, Paul Ward - guitar and vocals, Ewan Ashburn - drums, Damian Dalton - bass.

How did the band name came about, what does it mean - It was a mix of Bob Dylans, "The Rolling Thunder Revue" show that we've seen countless times and The Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club which has influenced a lot of the bands style. The band was initially called Socrates Johnson after The Bill and Ted movies :) 

I gather you've been following the path of another Sheffield success?  Yes, I think it's the best thing to happen to us so far, we've been recording our EP with 2fly studios where the Arctic Monkeys recorded their debut album. Also playing the Tramlines Festival in Sheffield was a big thrill for us. Also our first gig at Sheffield Leadmill on the 8th of Feb along side some of our favourite local acts is shaping up to be a great experience.

Tell us about the worst / funniest thing that has happened to the band so far? The funniest thing is realizing our drummer Ewan looks like Luis Suarez.

Who your favourite bands and musicians are, who inspired you to get involved with music. We have some quite diverse influences from old Blues artists such as Robert Johnson, Son House, BB King and Buddy Guy to more modern era bands such as Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and Jake Bugg.

Find out more about the band at

The Black Thunder Revue Official website

Black Thunder Revue Soundcloud

@TheBTRband on Twitter

Architects - "Naysayer"

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Album Review : Wake Up EP - Awesome Mr. Powerwolf

The Danish melodic hard rock outfit released their debut EP in 2013. The band had been around for almost 5 years but a change in band members revitalised the group in 2012 which saw them gigging regularly around Copenhagen.

Their groove filled hard rock ably supports Rasmus Cundell's clear vocal style. There is a familiar enough hard rock pattern to their songs but what makes this debut EP particularly satisfying is the care and attention which has gone into song writing. Familiar feeling hard rock it might be, but the twin lead guitarists Simon Stenbæk and Jonathan Lemoine play nicely off each other, imbuing the songs with a level of mature complexity often missing from a young band's first outing.

The rhythm section of Kasper Rebien on drums and Nicholas Tesla on bass keep the music powering along. There are hints of Scorpions in here, a nod to Led Zeppelin and the spirit of NWOBHM suffuses an enticing blend of infectious, classic sounding rock music.

'Wake Up' has another three tracks in addition to the title, 'Blackout', 'Love' and 'Busy Wasting Time'. AMP make good use of guitar leads and hooks in each song, just listen to the opening riff to 'Blackout', it rolls and draws you in, Rasmus starts to sing, Kasper starts pounding the drums and then as the whole band kicks in, Great Scott! Have they just channelled a classic Iron Maiden lick ? I think they did, and they carry it off well.

As debut EP's go, I have really enjoyed this. For me the stand out track is 'Blackout' with its nicely built intro and cleverly tempered break down in the middle section, all carried along by that captivating lead guitar. There's nothing weak here though, just four solid rock tracks. You can buy the EP on the link below at a 'name your own price' offer. This is a small band though, please do support them and pay something for their music.

Awesome Mr. Powerwolf Bandcamp

Amendfoil - Origin (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO 2013)

Amendfoil is FUCKING DEAD - Flashbacks from Skyline Escape debut album r...

A bit of daftness from one of this week's featured bands...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

'A Nightmare Livin' The Dream' - King Lizard

'Winding Stairs' - The Boy in the Attic

'Afterlife' - Nemesea

A Change Of Plans

You will have gathered by now that I'm making all of this up as I go along. The original idea for Rock The Charts just popped into my head and I ran with it. But, it needs some changes.

I don't want to short-change the first couple of bands we pick for the actual Rock The Charts attempts, and as supporter numbers have not as yet grown to levels where we can have a real go, I have decided to push the start date back by a couple of months to allow us to continue building our supporter base.

In the meantime we're going to continue promoting bands, we'll keep on bringing you music you may not have heard before. There won't be much Metallica or Muse on our channel, but it might well feature that band who go to college with you.

You may have noticed that I've been asking for bands to be featured rather than just picking them. I'm hoping that this will bring on board bands who are more actively involved and who will work more hand-in-hand with us. The more we grow, the more attractive we should become to bands wanting to promote their work.

Over the coming week we will be showcasing two bands, from Finland we have modern metallers Amendfoil, and from just down the road in Sheffield we're featuring The Black Thunder Revue.
If you want to get involved, either as a band, or as blogger, album or gig reviewer, please do get in touch.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

'Psychonaut' - Ghouls Come Knockin'

'Unbreakable' - Crestillion

'SMACKED (Now I'm Free)' - Circle Of Thorns

Two Week Countdown

Well in just under two weeks we're going to announce the first single to buy for the Rock The Charts attempt.  It's going to be a laugh.

For those of you who are new to the RTC adventure...

  • We want to get more rock and metal into the UK and worldwide charts
  • We have no budget whatsoever
  • We're relying on working with bands and their fans, PR people, radio stations and any other media
  • Please excuse the shambles, we're running on goodwill and black coffee
  • Did I mention we have no budget ?
If you can join us on Facebook or Twitter then please do.

If you are a band, manager, PR or Uber-fan and you can help the project by sharing and promoting, please do. We are all going to grow together on the Rock The Charts trip, as we gain fans your videos will get more viewers, we'll promote you to an increasing audience and this will repay down the line in more album and gig ticket sales.

If you manage a page on Facebook then please share our page. In the types of pages we are linking to we all share a passion for rock and metal, and as we grow we'll keep sharing you and you will grow with us, it's win-win.

Rock The Charts isn't gaining anything from this except having a good time and promoting the styles of music that I love.

That said, outright bribes of free albums, free booze and red headed girls in black leather will be gratefully accepted.

A quick stats update as I promised to keep you informed of how the project is doing after being up and running for a month...

Facebook followers 720 

Twitter followers 420 - Including 5 Finger Death Punch, Absolute Radio and Crucified Barabara, not that I'm bragging much.

Obviously then we need more numbers to achieve our big goal, but along the way if we have connected some bands to new fans then we're doing good work.

Best wishes folks x x

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, 6 January 2014

'Predation' - Derison

'My Private Hell' - Fatal Smile

'Shake The Mountain - The Treatment

Chaos and comedy on the Motley Crue tour as the roadcrew dismantle The Treatment's kit mid song.

'Whore Of The Medical Science' - Six Inch

'End Of The World - Deap Vally

'I Bleed Rock and Roll' - The Treatment

From Cambridge, UK, The Treatment play catchy, up-temp anthemic stadium filing hard rock.

'Wound Torn Bride' by Six Inch

Six Inch have some doom / goth influences to their metal, an excellent band from Finland with some nice videos.

'Bones' by Young Guns

'We Are Fucking Angry' by The King Blues

'Energy' by Fire Tiger

Sunday, 5 January 2014

So What's The Worst That Could Happen

The worst that could happen ? We fall flat on our face, don't make the numbers and out selected band don't make the chart on the 2nd of February. Is that failure ? Hell no.

As a Rock The Charts supporter, what's the worst thing that could happen to you ? You follow the blog, Facebook page, Twitter, you see some new bands, you spend 79p on a single download and you own a song. Perhaps it's a track from a genre of rock or metal that you don't normally listen to, perhaps you don't like it all that much. On the other hand, perhaps you love the song, perhaps that band becomes your personal next big thing.

It's all about possibilities.

If on February 2nd we've only persuaded a handful of people to buy a song then we've started the ball rolling. Next month we'll do better, we'll have more numbers, more friends.

If along the way you've discovered some great new bands, then it's a success. The band whose single you bought earned a little bit of money, which allows them to keep on functioning as band. It's win-win.

Dates to watch out for.....

Mon 20th January 2014 - we'll announce the first RTC track, and probably spam all accounts like crazy to tell you all what it is, but don't buy it until....

Mon 27th January 2014 - Start buying the single, it needs to be from a countable retailer like i-tunes, we'll try to check with artists own websites in advance to see if their sites count towards the charts.

Sun 2nd Feb - Official UK Top 40 released.

And then we can start all over gain ;-)


Friday, 3 January 2014