Tag Archives: Asking Alexandria

*Review* While She Sleeps – The Academy, Dublin 01/05/17

On 1st May 2017, English metalcore band, While She Sleeps, kicked off the month by playing a very long overdue Irish headliner in The Academy in Dublin. They were touring in support of their brand new, independent release, their third album ‘You Are We’.

Fizzy Blood opened the show, while their music may have been a bit out of place for this show, they put on a feverish performance anyways and got a great response from the crowd. They put a lot of effort into trying to win the crowd over and were rewarded with a wall of death during their last song: 6.5/10.

Landscapes, on the other hand, put on an atmospheric and intense performance. While they did not put a lot of effort into trying to win the crowd over, they got a warm response from them. Not a lot of crowd interaction but a decent performance none the less: 6.5/10.

The crowd started chanting While She Sleeps name as their intro started to play. The band’s stage production included swaying light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling. As they took to the stage and kicked off their set with ‘You Are We’ the title track off their new album, the assembled crowd exploded to life for the first time that night, throughout the song people were either jumping along or involved in the massive pit that was taking up most of the crowd, a long overdue headliner indeed. While She Sleeps sounded absolutely massive and continued their set with the crushing sound of ‘Civil Isolation’, with the entire crowd clapping along during its contrasting melodic bridge. Next up was an old favourite ‘Seven Hills’ off the band’s debut album ‘This Is The Six’, triggering the first big sing-a-long of the night, during the song the band’s vocalist, Loz Taylor, climbed into the front of the crowd and screamed the lyrics along with the crowd, an early and big highlight of the night.

Jumbled sound clips played throughout the venue before ‘Brainwashed’, the title track off their second album, kicked in, during which the crowd parted ways for the first massive wall of death of the band’s set. As the intro of ‘Empire of Silence’ started the crowd began clapping and singing ‘woah’ until it kicked in. Another heavy track ‘New World Torture’ followed it, triggering another wall of death. Guitarist and clean vocalist, Mat Welsh, grabbed an acoustic guitar and played the intro of ‘Wide Awake’ with it before being handed back his electric guitar for the rest of the song, the band got a very large circle pit going in the crowd during the song. Loz picked up and put on an Irish flag he was handed and was met with ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ from the crowd, after which he said that if he had known that, that was what he had to do to get that response from the crowd he would’ve done so earlier in the set. Loz dedicated the next song ‘Our Legacy’ to the entire room, during which he performed a mic swing before climbing onto the crowd.

Next was ‘Feel’, the heavy number got most of the crowd head banging along. Before the band played ‘This Is The Six’, Loz demanded a circle pit around the sound desk, which the crowd gladly obliged with. They ended their main set with another big sing-a-long in the form of recent single ‘Silence Speaks’. As they left the stage the crowd once again began chanting ‘While She Sleeps, While She Sleeps’. The band came back and kicked off their encore with ‘Four Walls’, before which Loz demanded that the crowd light up the whole room and for people to get on each other’s shoulders. The final wall of death of the night happened during ‘Four Walls’ before the band finished their set with ‘Hurricane’ as the entire room erupted for one last time, either singing and screaming along or by getting one last mosh in.

This was a long overdue Irish headliner from one of the most genuine and hardworking bands in the UK scene. While you’d question While She Sleeps setlist focusing on their newer material, the fact is, their new album ‘You Are We’ is their strongest release yet, both on record and live. The band have found the perfect balance between the melodic and heavy sides of their songs, and their live energy is as infectious as it has always been, except now it is even more refined and arguably even stronger. An easy: 10/10.

Advertisements

*Review* Avenged Sevenfold & Disturbed – 3Arena, Dublin 07/01/17

On Saturday 7th January American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold returned to Dublin for the first time in just over three years to kick off their ‘The Stage World Tour’, the tour is in support of their seventh album ‘The Stage’ which was released out of the blue back in October. Support on the night came from American heavy metal titans Disturbed.

dscf5015

Before Disturbed had even taken to the stage the standing area was packed fans who had made sure to turn up early for them, showing that while Disturbed may have been supporting Avenged Sevenfold that night they are still a band with a very large Irish fanbase of their own. They kicked off their set with the title track of their most recent album 2015’s ‘Immortalized’ before going back 15 years and playing ‘The Game’ off their debut album ‘The Sickness’. The first half of their set was mainly material off their first two albums, however, these songs sounded far from perfect live, it was as if the band was warming up while playing them, most notably, the vocals during ‘Stupify’ sounded a lot weaker than you’d expect from a heavier song. Despite how weak the first half appeared to me, the crowd did exactly as vocalist David Draiman told them to, including screaming the ‘fuck’ parts during ‘Stupify’. The first standout performance of the set, their cover of Simon & Garfunkel ‘s ‘The Sound of Silence’, which has been nominated for a Grammy, signalled the turning point in the set. The lighter stripped back performance of such a timeless classic, with acoustic guitars, bongos and keys with the crowd singing along to almost every word with lighters and phones raised high into the sky, was simply breathtaking. It was followed by a strong performance of ‘Inside the Fire’ off 2008’s ‘Indestructible’, complete with pyro, with pyro sticks burning throughout the set and pyro blasts every time Draiman said the ‘fire’. Another standout was ‘The Light’ during which Draiman requested a moment of audience participation, asking them to raise their phones and lighters every time he uttered ‘the light’, which resulted in the 3Arena being lit up beautifully throughout the song.

They finished their set off with increasingly stronger performances of hit after hit; ‘Stricken’, with a perfect vocal performance from Draiman, ‘Indestructible’, with its headbang inducing pace, and ‘Ten Thousand Fists’, with the crowd raising their fists in time to it. The final song of their set was the expected performance of ‘Down with the Sickness’ with a big pyro blast ending, which was followed by the crowd chanting ‘Disturbed’. The band asked for a quick picture, took it, and then Draiman said ‘I hope to see you again soon’ as the band left the stage. Despite being the support act on the night Disturbed played a full headlining set, their stage production included more pyro than I have ever seen a band use live and it did nothing but add to the show. However, they seemed to spend the first half of their set warming up, but the second half of it more than made up for this with hit after hit and plenty of standout moments: 8.5/10.

Prior to Avenged Sevenfold taking to the stage both Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ and David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ played out through the venue’s speakers, the start of a theme that the band’s setlist would expand upon. As this was ‘The Stage World Tour’ there was a lot of buzz prior to the show in regards to what the stage setup would be like for them. The central piece of this stage set up was a giant floating cube with screens on the two sides of it that were facing the crowd. There was also three more large rectangle screens on either side of the cube making their way from the back of the stage towards the front of it. The stage itself was a pretty big rectangle with a walkway leading out into the crowd and two holes in it where members of the crowd who had paid for VIP were standing, making them a part of ‘the stage’ and show itself. While the set up was impressive, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed by it, due to all the recent interviews with the band that I had read prior to the show, I expected there to be more to it.

dscf5020

The screens flashed white and the band’s deathbat logo appeared on the cube just before the 5 piece made their way to the stage. They kicked off their set with the title track off their latest album, from which the tour takes its name, ‘The Stage’, with vocalist, M. Shadows calling out to the crowd; ‘let me hear you Dublin,’ and hear them he did, as the crowd sang-a-long, showing their dedication to the band, by already knowing all the words to the ambitious 8 and a half minute monster of a track. They followed it up with an early stand-out of the set, ‘Afterlife’ off the band’s self-titled fourth album, with the crowds singing overpowering M. Shadows voice during the chorus, they finished the song to major applause from the crowd. ‘Dublin, how are you doing this evening?’ M. Shadows asked before making a joke about how the band might get given out to if they drink Guinness out of a can. Black and white footage began playing on the screens and the crowd started chanting, as the band started playing the title track off their sixth album ‘Hail to the King’, which was well received by the crowd despite how much the album split fans opinions upon its release back in 2013.  It was followed by the first live performance of ‘Paradigm’ off ‘To The Stage’ with M. Shadows telling the crowd ‘I wanna see a circle pit on this one’. Before playing ‘To End The Rapture’ off the band’s debut album, 2001’s, ‘Sounding the Seventh Trumpet’, M. Shadows said ‘I like this little arena. We are gonna play shit from all the records’. The short song was quickly followed by the heavy sound of ‘Chapter Four’ off their 2nd album ‘Waking The Fallen’.

dscf5021

A strong performance of ‘Buried Alive’ off 2010’s ‘Nightmare’ was another stand-out of the set with its multiple guitar solos and its powerful outro section. Before ‘Angels’, another debut live performance, the cube started moving towards the crowd while rotating, then began flashing an image of a planet. During the song, which is one of the bands more ‘chilled’ songs, a mosh pit got going in the crowd with M. Shadows saying ‘only in Dublin’. After the song, the cube moved back to the back of the stage. As ‘Nightmare’ kicked off the crowd exploded to life singing the loudest they had so far that night and multiple mosh pits started throughout the crowd, the crowd sang multiple parts of the song on their own with no need for any help from M. Shadows. M. Shadows continued to speak to the crowd saying ‘it is always a pleasure to get over here to Ireland. This will hopefully give promoters more confidence in us so we can do more shows in Ireland. Alright, best show of the tour.’ Before ‘Almost Easy’ he gave a shoutout to Disturbed telling the crowd that ‘they are a big band and that they don’t need to be here with us’.

During the section of ‘Sunny Disposition’ that featured the sound of a siren, M. Shadows used a megaphone instead of his microphone, which was pretty punk and complimented the big, heavy, weird, and long, song perfectly. The band made an interesting choice to play ‘Warmness on the Soul’ as an instrumental. A giant inflatable spaceman, with a skull face and a light up head, exploded out of the back of the stage, as the band started playing ‘Planets’ before the band finished their main set off with ‘Acid Rain’, as both songs are off of ‘Hail to the King’ they were weird choices to finish out the set with. M. Shadows shouted ‘Dublin, Ireland thank you so much for tonight and we’ll see you next time,’ as he left the stage.

Once again the deathbat appeared on all of the screens as the band made their way back onto the stage for the encore. ‘Bat Country’, oddly the only song in the set off ‘City of Evil’, kicked off the encore with the crowd shouting ‘he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man’ before exploding, the song resulted in the biggest mosh pits of the night and one of the loudest sing-a-longs. M. Shadows gave the band’s former drummer, The Rev, who died in 2009, a shout out, dedicating the next song to him, before mentioning that his own Dad was at the show, and stating that there was Irish in his family before asking why he can’t grow a better beard. The epic, 8 minutes long, ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ was the clear standout performance of the night, with The Rev’s haunting vocals playing out through the venue’s speakers seven years after his death, and the clear loudest sing-a-long of the night, with the crowd shouting, singing, and screaming back every single word of the song. The final song of the night was the expected performance of, the heavy, ‘Unholy Confessions’ off ‘Waking the Fallen’, allowing members of the crowd to get one last good mosh in.

While the main set could have been finished off with a stronger song, like the somehow missing performance of ‘Beast and the Harlot’ off ‘City of Evil’, I have to give it to Avenged Sevenfold for putting together a very ambitious stage setup, coupled with a set that covered the band’s entire career, and for easily the best crowd interaction from a band I have ever seen take place in an arena: 9.5/10.

 

 

*Interview* James Cassells(Asking Alexandria) 2/10/14

aa poster
On Thursday(2/10/14) evening I got a phone call from James Cassells, the drummer of British hard rock/metalcore band Asking Alexandria
(https://www.facebook.com/askingalexandria), to have a chat ahead of their Irish shows next Tuesday(28/10/14) in Ulster Hall in Belfast and Wednesday(29/10/14) in The Olympia Theatre in Dublin. A limited number of remaining tickets can be purchased here; http://www.ticketmaster.ie/search?tm_link=tm_homeA_header_search&user_input=asking+alexandria&q=asking+alexandria&search.x=0&search.y=0
The band is currently on the UK and Ireland leg of their ”From Death to Destiny” European Tour. James had only just arrived in the UK the day before he phoned me for our interview, our conversation can be read below after the videos.


Christopher; Are you looking forward to being back touring Europe?
James; Yeah man of course always, always a good laugh coming back to Europe and the UK and that. I think it’s mainly because we don’t get to do it as often as say when we get to tour America and what not. So yeah always, always good fun. Great time to come back to Ireland aswell, feels like it’s been a minute since we’ve been there I think the last time was when we played with While She Sleeps and Motionless [in White] that was fucking ages ago. It’s been a while man. It’s hard just trying to fit everywhere in the world because now as a band our status is going up everywhere in the world, like we’re getting bigger in South America, Australia and Asia. Trying to fit everywhere in, in one year is a fucking mission and have a little bit of time to ourselves so we don’t go insane. So it sucks that we don’t get to come as often.

C; What do you like about Ireland? Any favorite places to visit while over here?
J; We’ve only played Belfast I think two time and last time we were there was like the second time. We’ve got to play Dublin a bunch of times and I really like Dublin. [Last time] we played two nights in a row in The Academy so we sort of just had a bit of downtime you know to just fucking mess around in the city and what not. ’cause usually everyone thinks ‘oh your in a band you’ve seen all these cities, you know your way around’. No we dont, we get there, wake up, soundcheck and then we just got to wait around, play the show. We don’t really have a lot of time to go and see places. We don’t really get to experience a city unless we’ve a day off there or do two nights in a row so [that] we’ve full days to mess around. So yeah I would say Dublin is one of my favourte places in Ireland just ’cause of that reason.

C; What can fans expect to see on the upcoming tour?
J; A lot more material from ”From Death to Destiny”, which obviously last time we didn’t really play, we played one song, so a lot more ”From Death to Destiny”. I think we’ve got a bunch more production, we’ve got more lights and stuff and some other cool production things. As always its going to be a drunken laugh, plenty of all the stuff we shouldn’t be doing is going to be going on, fun as ever in the Asking Alexandria camp.
In one of the previous interviews I was saying I’m really stoked to play like a bigger venue, ’cause you know when we played Dublin the last few times, The Academy is so fucking small and it’s cool playing the small venues like your in everyone’s face and into it but it’ll be cool now to see it on a little bit bigger scale so I’m really stoked about that.

C; What decisions went into choosing the supports for this tour?
J; I mean to be honest we sort of, we just pick the people we kind of want to tour with. Were good mates with The Ghost Inside, we’ve toured with them a bunch, done a bunch of shit with them, their great friends of ours. Again we’ve toured with Crown the Empire a loads of times and their like a band who is up and coming, on the rise, we always like to bring out bands, give them a helping hand, plenty of bands when we were on the way up helped us out and took us out on tours. So that’s what we like to do with bands that are a few years behind us in terms of coming up and getting to the point where they can do headlining tours and shit. So it’s always nice to do that.

J; The opener band Secrets I’m actually not too familiar with.
C; They’re one of my favorite newer bands right now, so I’m very excited to see them.
J; Our booking agents super stoked on them too. I’ll get to know them over the tour but I don’t really know that band at all so I’m rather interested to hear them. Usually we just pick our support bands because we’re mates with them, we just like to have fun on tour, what better way to have fun than with your mates.

C; Favorite band to tour with?
J; I’ve only ever had the opportunity to tour with this band once on an actual tour and not a festival tour and it’s Breath Carolina, they are probably some of the funnest guys to tour with, its dangerous don’t get me wrong, it’s very dangerous but they’re a lot of fun, like Davids one of my good friends, always a laugh. Apart from that I like touring with so many bands man like Trivium, awesome guys, I really like touring with Avenged [Sevenfold] they’re fucking great guys, yeah just a shit load of bands.
It’s funny like the more you go into touring and you get to tour with bigger bands you’d be surprised you think everybody has got an attitude or is a cunt but they’re really not, everybody is super nice and it’s actually like real refreshing to get a chance to tour with some of your favorite bands like you grew up listening to and they’re actually fucking super cool. Like we got the opportunity to tour with Korn, they took us out not too long ago and their fucking cool as shit dude, like fucking awesome, I was like your Korn I grew up listening to you, fucking sick.
Suicide Silence they’re another band that is really fun to tour with, good mates of ours.

C; Favorite song to play live?
J; Mines ”Killing You” off ”From Death to Destiny” I don’t know why I just really like the song. It was one of those songs that was written, I think Ben came to me with a rift right and we just tracked this one rift and we left it for months. We were on the drive back from tour and we had a two day drive back and it was just me and Ben on the bus, bored as shit, so we were just like fuck it we’re going to finish this song. I really liked it. So it’s probably one of my favorites to play live, just ’cause of that reason I just really like the song, it feels really natural for me to play you know.

C; Speaking of songs on the album why was ”Dead” not on the standard edition of the album?
J; Politics of music, I wanted it to be really bad but certain people in our team didn’t think it was a good idea, it’s basically because the lyrical content and the vibe of ”Dead” is super dark, super aggressive, evil, the lyrical content and the music wise it’s something would be more fitting to go on like say ”Reckless & Relentless” where ”From Death to Destiny” is more of an uplifting, more positive that’s the sort of vibe with the album. So really it’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album but it doesn’t really go with the rest of the album.
C; And it has that really cool Phantom of the Opera type vibe to it.
J; At the end the really cinematic, epic, yeah it’s cool. Expect more of that shit on our next album by the way, were going to go to town with that shit it’s going to be like Phantom of the Opera shipped into hell and back again, it’s going to be sick.

C; Will we ever be lucky enough to hear ”Dead” live?
J; We’re not planning on playing it on this upcoming tour, I will say that. It sucks because we don’t get to play a bunch of songs I’d like to play just because we have certain songs that if we don’t play people are going to be super fucking pissed with us and we can’t play, well technically we could play three hours but who wants to watch a band for three hours, I mean they could be my favorite band in the world but I aint standing up for three hours watching a band, I’m going to get bored, I’m going to be like I’m nackered I want to go to a bar and chill.
We try to play around an hour, inbetween an hour and ten and an hour and thirty, that’s usually as long as we like, that’s like a good set time anyways, so we try to cram as many songs into that as possible but you know like I said we have to play multiple songs off the albums and were still picking and choosing at that sort of.
Unfortunately we haven’t gotten a chance to play ”Dead” yet. I’m feeling like latter on though down the line songs we’re probably going to end up do shows, that are all songs that didnt really make it live, so we can just get a chance to play, we’ll do a tour of all the songs people want to hear that we never got around to playing.
C; Like ”The Match”(off ”Reckless & Relentless”)?
J; Yeah ”The Match” is another one, ”A Candlelight Dinner with Inamorta” from our first album, loads of people got pissed with us because we didn’t play that. What else is there, ”Believe” that’s another one that people want to hear and ”The Road”, oh shit we haven’t played ”The Road” yet, we got to pick up the slack. I’m sure we’ll get around to it at some point.

C; When can we expect the fourth album?
J; You should be expecting the fourth album by Summer next year ’cause we’ve only started writing it, we’ve written a shit load of music for it, some tracks we’ve got like actually fully recorded, like obviously we’ll re-record them, we’ve got a load of material man. I tell everyone like, were not like most bands, most bands will like record an album, then tour the album, then they’ll stop touring and go write the next album, then go record the album and do the same shit again. We never stop writing music, so its just a constant thing. We’ve got such a lot of shit done, it’s just now finding time to actually go into the studio to do prepro, get it tracked, to get it finished. I think we’re planning on doing it early next year. We’re just trying to work out where were going to go and record it and what not.

C; You’ve recorded three albums with Joey (Sturgis) as the producer are you planning to stick with him?
J; We don’t really know who we’re going to go with just yet. We’re still trying to lineup everyones scheduels and what not. Which is you know a big thing in the music industry, everyones doing shit at other times, got other commitments and what not so it can be a bit of a pain in the ass to get them sorted.

C; Can we expect the One Step Closer intro you’ve been playing lately?
J; I don’t know to be honest that’s never something we actually plan. It just happens. We do a bunch of like half assed covers and then we stop. That sort of shit just happens over time, if we’ve been doing a certain setlist for a couple of weeks on tour and we’re getting a bit bored inbetween songs we just start fucking around and by the end of the tours its become like a pernament thing in the set. We never plan on it be like this is going to continue on to the next tour. It’ll just happen or it won’t. I’d like it to be, its always good fun when we do that shit. There’s always something that’s improvised and goes on.
C; Do you remember the ham in Ireland last time, the ham that got thrown up on to your drumkit?
J; Oh yeah, shit like that is crazy, weird memorable things thats are always happening when we play live, that’s what makes it so special, regardless of where your playing or who you are playing to when stuff like that happens it sticks with you and it will remind you of just how awesome that time was.

C; Favorite drummer? (Question from Jacob Woulfe @Mr_Woulfe on Twitter!)
J; Ah shit dude thats hard. At the moment I’m really obsessed with a dude called Tony Royster JR, he is not a metal drummer at all, he is playing for like Jay-Z at the moment, he is such a fucking beast. His Instagram posts are just him shredding all the time, its like you fucking bastard, he is probably my favorite at the moment.

C; Why do you now play Tama kits instead of Truth kits? (Question from William Woods Follow My Lead’s drummer, check them out @_FML_Official_ on Twitter!)
J; My relationship with Truth didn’t go sour, I’m still good friends with Jeff. It’s just we play a lot of international shit, we’ll be playing in Asia, Australia and like everywhere in the world and because Truth is such a small custom company they can’t provide me with drumkits everywhere in the world and it’s to expensive to ship over a drum kit over, if you did that the costs would be insane. So I had to move to a bigger company that could give me the correct international support because basically we just got done with an Asia tour and obviously there is no Truth kits in Asia yet, so I was just playing on any old piece of shit rentals and I can’t afford to do that when we’re playing shows to thousands of people and they expect everything it to be perfect and I’m playing a not so decent kit. So I had to move to a bigger company and Tama’s been a company that I’ve loved for many years so it just seemed like a naturual progression to move over to them. I’ll actually be playing a brand new custom kit on this tour, it’ll be the first tour I’m playing it so I’m super stoked about that. It’s going to look metal as fuck.

Check out Asking Alexandria’s newest video for ”Moving On” below!