New Music: Beachheads - Moment Of Truth

Beachheads band

Getting 2017 off on the right note is the sound of two members of the Norwegian metal outfit Kvelertak, expressing their pop punk prowess as part of the band Beachheads.

The spark that became Beachheads was first ignited on a tour bus, as Vidar (guitar) and Marvin (bass) fantasised about the endless potential of fuzzy guitars, energetic drums and strong melodies.

After a demo session a couple of years back they hooked up with Stavanger-locals Espen, a metal drummer with a pop heart, and former synth-pop-singer Børild. Together they knocked out three single tracks that quickly made a mark on playlists on both Norwegian and British national radio.

2017 is the year the band finally drops their debut album, and it has been well worth the wait. It's 12 tracks of no nonsense pop rock goodness punctuated by anthems such as Your Highness and new single Moment of Truth.

The album is brimmed with melody and euphoria, and also has a deeper meaning threaded through it's running time. That truthfulness and honesty will get you through anything.

You can watch the video for their track Moment of Truth below.

 
Moment Of Truth, Your Highness and Break Me Down are available on streaming services now. Their debut album is released February 3rd.

Why You Should Be Playing...Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy 15

One of the biggest gaming franchises of all time has returned for it's 15th outing, and happily manages to breathe new life into what was becoming a predictable experience.

If you're unaware of the phenomenon that is Final Fantasy, it's a simple enough concept really.

You play as a protagonist who will almost certainly be sporting a gravity defying haircut and wielding a larger than life sword. You journey through a fantasy world filled with magic and monsters to inevitably face off against a foe who threatens the universe's very existence.

It's a classic set up, and despite the franchise's continuing popularity, I think its fair to say the past couple of editions left fans a little bit cold.

Enter Final Fantasy XV.

It's the titles next-gen console debut and is dubbed as "A Final Fantasy for fans new and old", which is nice! And whilst the familiar good vs evil tropes are all still present, this time round the game emphasises heavily on the road trip side of things.

You play as Noctis, a prince on a journey to wed his bride-to-be and thus unite two waring nations which will bring peace to the world. Of course, things soon get turned upside down and you and your group of friends are embroiled in an almighty kerfuffle.



The first point to make about the game is the sheer size of thing. I've played it longer than any other game this year and I've barely scratched the surface, there are so many side avenues to explore and landscapes to navigate, that the finishing line is a meer spot on the horizon.

Secondly, you get a car. And although the driving mechanics aren't anything to write home about, it's a great way for the game to bring the road trip aspect of the game to the forefront.

Final Fantasy XV Chocobo

And this isn't the only new addition, you're now able to camp out, cook, fish and keep a photo diary of your adventures. These additional elements really help you buy into the characters and their relationships and serve as a nice breather from the battle heavy narrative.

Speaking of the battling, fighting in this game is fast and furious and does take a while to get used to. A quick point, it's definitely worth listening to the tutorial...because you'll need it.

Elsewhere, the Chocobos return and the monsters look bigger and better than ever. There is also an additional danger for gamers to look for in the form of the night time. Go out into darkness at your own risk, as this is where the big bad monsters come out to play.

All in all, this is a game that is easily capable of stealing hundreds of hours away from you. So if you fancy getting stuck into a game, and immersing yourself in a new world this is the game for you... not that Conan O'Brien thinks so.

 
The Top Five Albums Of 2016

2016's best albums

Well. I don't think any of us were expecting a year like that.

It's been quite the ride 2016, a year which well and truly threw the rulebook out the window. Whilst all the political hoo-hah and celebrity deaths were going on, a few artists decided to release albums. Some  of those were really good.

So let's not dwell on the questionable decisions made in months past, lets focus on pieces of art that were triumphant in taking listeners away from this earthly plain, and onto a dimension a little more enjoyable.

5. letlive. - If I'm The Devil...


letlive if im the devil album

LA rockers letlive. only appeared on my radar at the beginning of this year. Once I'd finished slapping my head in anger for having been so late to this particular party, I was delighted to hear their third studio album was to be released in the summer.

If I'm The Devil... puts its cards on the table from the get go, embraces the unique traits that have made this band what they are today and brings each one to the forefront to marvellous effect.

Delivering a powerful message whilst sounding better than ever. letlive. are agitated, and you know what, it suits them.



4. Omar Rodriguez Lopez - Umbrella Mistress

Omar Rodriguez Lopez Umbrella Mistress

As I've previously stated, Omar Rodriguez Lopez is a genius. Umbrella Mistress is his 31st (yes you read that right) studio solo album and is the fifth release in a series of twelve that the mad man is releasing this year.

The album was originally created as a soundtrack for a film, and features Lopez at his most accessible musically. It's a series of laid back rock tunes laced with his unmistakeable personality. Highlights include The Beatles-esque Blood Count, the hypnotising Eastern Promises and the poptastic Winters Gone.

If you're going to dive into his series of twelve albums, Umbrella Mistress is the perfect place to start.




3. Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis


Biffy Clyro Ellipsis Artwork

Ellipsis marked an enforced departure from Biffy Clyro's comfort zone in terms of how the band approached creating music. They'd comfortably conquered their stadium rock sound over the last three albums and believed it was time for a change in course.

The result is an album taking full advantage of production benefits and studio wizardry. Forget the "live effect" this batch of songs have been tinkered with obsessively, giving them an almost futuristic aura. The vocal effects on Re-arrange, the fuzzed up synths in On a Bang, even the ballad People benefits from some minimalist electro atmospherics.

If this is the sound of a band experimenting in the studio, then God only knows what the next album will sound like once they've got the hang of it. Daft Punk vocoders anyone?



2. PAWS - No Grace

PAWS No Grace Artwork

Speaking of Scottish trios, here's another one! For this record PAWS packed their bags and headed to the states to record with godfather of pop punk Mark Hoppus and the results are b-e-a-utiful.

The guitars are as fuzz filled as ever and the drumming has been given an injection of pace, with almost every track played at break neck speed. The choruses aren't bad either, there are pop hooks anthemic sing along opportunities and more than enough pure rock out moments to keep the old faithful satisfied.

Stand out tracks are the poppy Gone So Long, the rousing Complete Contempt and the Dinosaur Jr laced N/A. But at 26 minutes, you may as well listen to the entire thing.

It really is refreshing to see a band hammer out a selection of songs that are at such a high standard. There are no misses, no moments that don't hold your attention. It's all killer and no filler, and yes, that is a faded Sum 41expression. Deal with it.

All in all, if you're a fan of straight up rock n roll, the likes of which there just isn't enough of these days, this is the record for you. It's one of the best of 2016.



1. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo


Kanye West The Life of Pablo Artwork

If 2016 has taught us anything, it's that people are unpredictable. So it's probably apt that Kanye West released the greatest record of the year.

The Life of Pablo is Kanye's most overarching record to date, it looks back at his entire career and uses the lessons he's learned through the creation of each record to mould this album into something special. The pop hooks of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the mad scientist approach of Yeezus; it's all here.

From the opening bars of the gospel prayer Ultralight Beam, it's obvious the listener is in for something unique. So by the time the musical direction is thrown on it's head during Father Stretch My Hands it's not exactly a surprise, but just as thrilling.

The lyrics are outrageous, the beats are world beating and the man himself is a cultural phenomenon. And it's that persona which makes the record that more special. The thirty minute rants, the social media pipe bombs, the meetings with Donald Trump, it's all part of the artistic expression.

Move over Damien Hirst, modern art has found it's new saint, and his name isn't Pablo.

Biffy Clyro: Live @ Newcastle Metro Radio Arena 02/12/16

Biffy Clyro UK Tour 2016

Ever get the feeling you should just sign up for a season pass with certain bands? I had a slight twang of deja vu at the Metro Radio Arena last Friday when Biffy Clyro's intro music hit. Seeing a band for the third time in the space of a year will do that to you. Little did I know the trio had a surpise in store for those in attendance.

Tonight is not just a night to perform your standard set consisting of 15 tracks, oh no. Tonight they step things up a gear and perform a mammoth 27 songs for those in attendance.



Yes, it turns out Simon Neil and the boys had decided for this arena tour, it was time to unleash their back catalogue in all it's glory. They haven't got much of a choice in truth, their last four albums have all been hits, leaving them with a plethora of material to choose from...and it would be a shame to leave some of those crowd pleasers out.

And so they arrive, on an LED entrenched stage, surrounded by thousands of adoring fans, and they look like they're in their element. Biffy Clyro 2016 are a force to be reckoned with.

Whilst new album Ellipsis wasn't necessarily a heavy album, the new songs sound particularly vicious this evening. Opener Wolves of WinterHerexAnimal Style and On a Bang in particular prove that whilst they maybe seven albums deep, the scots still have some riffs left in the tank.

Elsewhere in the set, there's plenty of cuts from previous albums. The decision to bring back Infinity Land's Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave as well as Blackened Sky's monster anthem Justboy, ensures the long term fans have their moment and opens the door for new fans to discover what their new favourite band used to get up to back in the day.



But of course, the adoration lies mostly with the tracks taken from Puzzle and Only RevolutionsMany of Horror envokes a deafening singalong, That Golden Rule sparks riotous mosh pits and Mountains triggers...well, yet more adoration from their besotted public!

So what's next for Scotlands premiere rock trio? With this performance they've proven they can comfortably slay arenas, and provide a setlist boasting a treasure trove of hits. The band have said they like to keep it fresh, and whilst Ellipsis showcased their ability to do that in a musical sense, will the band be willing to throw out the rule book in a performance sense?

They've already headlined Reading and Leeds festivals this year and performed their biggest ever show at Glasgow's Bellahouston park. Do they dare go bigger, or is it time to retreat and go back to the intimate stages of old?

Whereever they decide to go from here, you can bet there'll be plenty of surprises in store and who knows... maybe release a season ticket for those of us who keep on coming back for more.

Setlist:

- Wolves of Winter
- Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies
- Sounds Like Balloons
- Biblical
- Spanish Radio
- Howl
- In the Name of the Wee Man
- Justboy
- Bubbles
- Herex
- Black Chandelier
- Friends and Enemies
- That Golden Rule
- Folding Stars
- Re-Arrange
- Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave
- Medicine
- Different People
- Mountains
- On a Bang
- 9/15ths
- Animal Style
- Many of Horror
- Machines
Encore:
- The Captain
- People
- Stingin' Belle
Panic! At The Disco: Live @ London Alexandra Palace 20/11/16

Panic! At The Disco Alexandra Palace Review 2016

Panic! at the Disco. They've been around for over a decade now and are eponymous with feelings of teenage angst for anyone over the age of 21. 

A Fever You Can't Sweat Out was the piece de resistance during the mid noughties "emo" movement, causing the sweepy fringe and top hat combo to dominate the fashion in secondary schools everywhere. Whether that's a good thing or not, is certainly up for debate. What I'm trying to say is that they made an impact.



And they didn't stop there! P!ATD have released five albums, their latest Death of a Bachelor has spawned several successful hit singles and lead to their biggest UK shows ever, including two dates at London's famous Alexandra Palace, the second of which I was lucky enough to attend.

Beginning with the Rock Lobster sampling Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time, it's immediately clear that this isn't a nostalgic trip down memory lane for the band, this is a celebration of their recent output with a sprinkle of the classics for good measure.

The new songs are performed with a full brass band back up, giving them added impact which really does make them them the stand out tracks of the night. Crazy=Genius is even given an extended drum solo battle, within which singer Brendan Urie hops on to a second kit and shows off his percussive abilities.



The classics are received just as you'd expect. The Ballad of Mona LisaNine in The Afternoon and new single Hallelujah all trigger mass sing-alongs from, what I have to say, is one of the most diverse crowds I've ever been part of. Time to Dance is a nice throwback to 2005, and is appreciated by the, now not so angsty, 20 year olds in attendance.

I really must give special mention to their cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, which is flawless. To have the balls to cover it in the first place is something, but to go ahead and smash it in the style they do is next level. Well played lads.

And then of course there's the big one, I Write Sins Not Tragedies. Not earmarked as the set closer, perhaps a sign from the band that one day they'd like to not play it, it is the most celebrated song of the night. That violin riff...so good.

All in all, the emo scenseters turned pop rock heroes turned out a joyful performance, one that was much needed after all the hoopla going on at the moment. Now, where did I put that top hat

Setlist

- Don't Threaten Me with a Good Time
- Vegas Lights
- The Ballad of Mona Lisa
- Hallelujah
- Time to Dance
- Emperor's New Clothes
- Girls/Girls/Boys
- Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)
- Nine in the Afternoon
- Crazy=Genius
- Miss Jackson
- Golden Days
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Death of a Bachelor
- LA Devotee
Encore:
- I Write Sins Not Tragedies
- This Is Gospel
- Victorious

Bring Me The Horizon: Live @ Birmingham Barclaycard Arena 04/11/16

BMTH UK Tour Poster 2016

It's no secret that Bring Me The Horizon have pulled off a reinvention in terms of musical style over the past few years. From underground death metal moshers to UK alternative scenes poster boys, the change in direction has reaped great rewards for the Steel City quintet.


Latest album That's The Spirit epitomised the bands rise to the upper echelons of the rock world, and so it was no surprise when they announced their debut UK arena tour shortly after the album shot to number two in the charts.

And so we arrived at the Barclaycard arena in Birmingham, awaiting a night of raucous rock n' roll on a colossal scale. That's exactly what we got.

BMTH Live NIA 2016

The set is a celebration of their latest output, with Suicide Season's Chelsea Smile the only inclusion from the bands first three albums. It's quite a statement to make, especially for a band with such a dedicated fanbase. The band fully believe in their new material, and why wouldn't they? Every song is met with a rapturous ovation, Oli Sykes' lyrics screamed back at him at twice the volume. From the opening bars of Happy Song, to the electronic vibes of main set closer Throne, it's a deafening room.

The staging is special, the backdrop decorated with 50 FT HD screens, projecting imagery amplifying each tracks energy, creating a sense that something special is happening. We are witnessing a band at the height of their powers.


BMTH Live 2016Riffs, choruses as big as the room and a shed load of great pop tunes. Bring Me The Horizon have become a mainstay of the UK rock circuit and by the time Drown draws the curtain on the bands performance, it's clear that their first forays into the arena world has been a resounding success.

With an output as varied as theirs, it's impossible to say where the band will end up next. But with a taste for arenas and a track record of writing massive rock tunes, they may very well be unstoppable. Just don't expect too many old tunes. Forward ever, backwards never.

Setlist

- Happy Song
- Go to Hell, for Heaven's Sake
- The House of Wolves
- Avalanche
- Shadow Moses
- Chelsea Smile
- Follow You
- Sleepwalking
- Doomed
- Can You Feel My Heart
- Antivist
- Throne
- True Friends
- Oh No
- Drown
DMA'S Perform Cher's Believe - The Best Cover Of The Year

DMA's Cover Cher

Dressed like they've stepped straight off the set of Shameless, Australian indie heroes DMA'S have recorded the best cover version this year with their rendition of Cher's Believe.

On paper it shouldn't work. That's not to slight the band in any fashion, they're quite obviously a bunch of talented lads, it's just a strange marriage of musical styles. 

It does work however, and how. Originally the track was known for it's questionable production style, Cher's vocals at times sounding like they were recorded whilst gargling water. DMA'S however decided they didn't need such water based studio tricky, instead deciding to attack it with just two acoustic guitars, and to great effect.

The bands debut album Hills End was released earlier this year via Infectious records to wide critical acclaim, catching the attention of the British media including  a Radio One A-List addition, support from Radio X, 6 Music and ‘Record of The World’ from Zane Lowe.

If this cover doesn't make their upcoming set lists it will be a crime.



If you can't get enough of cover versions, an honourable mention has to go to Slaves with their cover of The Streets, Fit Buy You Know It. Have a listen below, it's great. Starts at 17:49.