Merauder - Five Deadly Venoms

It's been a while since Master Killer was released, and to be honest, for quite a large portion of that while I thought the band had split. But they ain't, they're back, and this is the new album. Intro is kind of well, like an intro really. Doesn't say much. Scarred is the first song proper that's up, and it comes on as very Machine Head to these lugholes, especially in the vocals, but hang on, we're 2 1/2 minutes in and there's a really nice melodic break. Only lasts a few seconds but that was good, I like that. Maybe it's just me, but there's plenty of times where there's a very small part of a song that just totally stands out and makes the song. The rest can be average but you just play the song because of that small part. Oh well, it could just be me. Anyway, that means that we're on now to Unify, and the blueprint it would seem is established. We're definitely in the Machine Head area with the twist of Pantera. Shaken, not stirred. Apparently Merauder are "metal core" Ooh, we're at an acoustic breakdown now, that took me a bit by surprise. Let me see your hands in the air everybody. The production is nice and thick on here, warm sounding and a definite asset. Five Deadly Venoms itself is up next, and is that a chessy rattlesnake like rattle that I hear going on. It's a bit more uptempo, at least in the riffage. Hmm, this is better than the new Skinlab album is the thought that's nipping through my mind at the moment. Well, the thought that I can write without fear of being arrested on an obscenity charge and thatís related to music. Well, my 7 minutes or whatever they reckon is the time span for blokes was up.

Itís only 30 minutes long though, and despite my protests from time to time about albums being overly long and containing filler material, this one couldíve done with being filled with a bit more.

Friend of the Devil #11 zine

I bought this at the Anathema gig in Birmingham. And although itís a good zine, all I can come up with is criticisms. Firstly I find it hard to read. I know to many, zines are works of art and are designd as such. Personally, I just wanna be able to read them, and the layouts here make it hard to follow some of the stuff the splits a page. The other thing, is that although itís only done twice a year as itís a hobby, some of the reviews are way old. The ads are new, like the new SOIA album, but theyíre just reviewing the SOAD demo. And theyíre weird reviews. Like nearly everything gets over 6/10 except all the zine reviews, which mostly get under 6. Maybe theyíre just harsher on the zines, but I mean, thereís something going on here. I mean, itís a bit punker than thou in places, yet the All Saints got a 7/10 album review. Uh yeah. Recommended, with reservations.

Friend of the Devil, 4 Mainstone Close, Winyates East Redditch, B98 0PP.

Feeder / Straw

Wolves Wulfrun

May 20 1999


Don't you just love the motorways? Yeah, I love them. Despite my ability at times to manage to take a wrong turn, or miss the occassional landmark, such as an entire university, or even the second largest city in the UK, I can deal with motorways. Apart from when I'm late from work. Which means I leave home at about 7. A bit more footage to the floorage means I reach Birmingham at 7.40. To be greeted by a sign indicating "congestion" from here to the turn for Wolves. Bugger. And they're not lying. In the next forty minutes, I manage to go about half the distance I need. Which normally takes under 10 minutes or so. We're talking slooooow crawl here. There's a possibility that you could make a sentence out of the words "bunny Dave happy not a". If you were so inclined. So, I decide to take a turn onto the M5 and head to Dudley, which I remember has signposts to Wolves. And get caught behind a police escort. Eventually past that, the sign says Woves - 8 miles. Nay problem laddie. Except for a reason known only to someone other than me, the road has a set of traffic lights every 5 yards. And a 40mph speed limit and speed cameras. And when I eventually got to Wolves, the car park is closed and it's 8.45. Yeah, you gotta love the motorways.

So when I eventually get in, the first band have finished, the second are in full swing and Vickie thought I'd decided not to come. So anway, Straw are doing their thang, which is not totally my thang on first impression. It's ok, but doesn't stick with me. The things that do stick out in the mind are that they have helpful signs next to each member, like Vocals, Guitar, Drums and Organ. They must've known I was coming. They also dedicate a song to Limp Bizkit, which starts a little discussion with me reckong LB are crap and Vickie reckoning not. And cos I'm writing this I'm going to say I win that one. The other thing that sticks out is they're playing terrible guitars. Real bad shapes. And a twin neck guitar / bass ensemble. Nooooooo. Sorry, no mention of the music, I've forgotten what it sounded like.

So anyway, the last time I saw Feeder was as support to someone back in the days where they had long hair and the bassist was sticking his through some holes and pointed to the sky. Hair I mean. Since then, they've been shorn, and tonight it appears, they've expanded around the middle with the addition of an extra guitarist. So anyway, damn, gotta come up with a better phrase than that, anyway, I'd not been overly impressed previously. To the point that I own nothing by them. Vickie on the other hand seems to like them. The meeting of two opinions then. So the titles that follow are either the ones that were mentioned onstage, or that I was fed as we went along. (Oh come on, I tried with that. Sheesh you're a tough crowd!!) They start off with Crash and Cement, which both sound pretty good actually, before last single Day In Day Out (I think), which I thought sounded ok, but Vickie wasn't that keen on. Another new song I guess sounds very melodic and kind of laid back. The overall impression that I left with is that it's got a chance in the States. It's grand, there's like a mini-arena feel to it all, but the new guitarist doesn't leave any kind of impression with you.

My Perfect Day is an absolute lie. Well it would be after that journey here, but it actually sounds like their best song to me. New single Insomnia is pretty good, throwing in as it does, the refrain of "I drink myself to sleep .. insomnia". W.I.T apparently stands for Women In Towels. Don't ask me, I don't know. It turns out to be the most memorable thing about it. There's a bunch of visuals being projected behind the band, which is an idea that I like, but would like to see taken further. A full show, rather than the looped snips that are currently being used. There's a couple more new songs such as Tinseltown and DISCO, during which they repeatedly attempt to blind me with the lights being used, and I discover there's a disadvantage to being pretty tall. There's no one to hide behind to protect the eyes. And besides, it can rival the gory of the D.I.S.C.O. classic from the 70s. Oh yeah, I'm old enough to remember that one in all its gory. Nope, no spelling mistakes. There's a few more songs and it's over. Well, the main set. It's actually gone pretty quickly to my mind, which must be a good thing. Though Vickie reckons that "they haven't played half their good stuff."

The Gary Glitter chant of "come on come on" reverberates. "I've never heard that before" reckons Vickie. And neither have I in all the gigs I've ever been to. And so I guess they have no option other than to return for a couple of encores, the final one of which sees an elongated jam sort of things, spacey type of stuff culminating in a pretty noisy end. It's something that doesn't really work for them, and there's the cheap ad of the web site address being projected behind them. It's all kind of at odds with the more introspective newer material, which reminds me a little bit of Flyscreen in places.

So, as we leave, the verdict? Well, me, Mr Cynic reckons it was pretty good. Vickie reckons they weren't as good as before and a bit boring. Still, I managed to get home a damn sight quicker than I got here.