Blackrock

Oi, come on, wake up. Look, I know this issue has been a long haul, but we're nearly at the end now. Just stick with it for a little bit longer. And besides, if it's been hard for you to read, just imagine what it's been like for me to write the bloody thing. There's surely only so many ways you can say you like or don't like something, and I think in trying to write something for everything, I've used up my entire quota. And then some. But still, ever upwards and onwards eh! Anyway, you should wake up, cos it's Blackrock that we're on to now. I was handed a copy of this CD by Marksound while I was sat in the pub. Someday all demos will be handed over this way! Anyway, Dan had been promising a copy for a while, and I was glad to get my mits on this, because until now my only exposure to the band had been that great gig with Shallow and the vastly overrated Cube. Blackrock had done the Sabbath like stoner thing that night, with a frontman who leans on the enjoyable side of loony. It was a pretty mesmerising set, and so now, finally, I can discover what they really sound like and just enjoy the toons.

So we have 4 toons, clocking up 20 minutes. First up is Blackrock itself, it comes in on an almighty groove and a production which takes you back to the 70s. Now that can be a bad thing, letís not forget that the 70s threw up some absolute dirge, but this is the good side, that warm feeling production that you just never get anywhere these days, not even in those trying to re-capture it. But although thereís a groove, the band manage to break the song up into sections, it winds down a bit before kicking back in at you. A simple touch, but one many seem to forget. Theyíve got the pacing and the dynamics right. Theyíve got a hold on when to end an instrumental break. They know how to construct something that retains your interest.

Dr Satans Robot then comes on like some Southern Boogie monster, again, not something Iím overly familiar with, but it works. duh de duh de duh duh. You can hear kind of Deep Purple things going on in that there riff. Again, something Iím not a fan of. But it works. It makes no sense to me. This should be utter crap, but itís not. I guess some "have it" others imitate it. Blackrock HAVE. I can even forgive that mini drum solo break thing - though donít push me too far with those sorts of things.

Downer I remember stood out at the gig, and now I can see why. Absolute monster. Itís starts off slow, but even there, as the opening builds in volume, you know, you just simply know that the riff is going to be huge. And it is. Itís pure 70s, part of the good part. And theyíve upped the tempo as well, itís stoner that doesnít require you to be comatose to appreciate it. Thereís the kind of warmth and feel going on in here that Pantera could only dream about on some of their more Sabbath inspired moments. It highlights the difference between technicality and feel, or just being "right" in as good a way as I can think of. You can just feel this inspire people to dance like loonies in the live setting. Close your eyes, and you know Lee Dorrian is just going to be loosing his mind, and a bit of sleep that Cathedral havenít produced anything approaching this.

Temple of Jupiter / Herculaneum is the final offering here. Temple of Jupiter is the acoustic part I guess, and well, yeah, itís an acoustic part with the tambourine going in the background, and then, then weíre hurtling straight headlong into a riff Mr Iommi wouldíve been proud of when recording Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. And then they throw a spanner in the works by cleverly using a much more spartan riff for the verse, but you know that main oneís going to crash back in for the chorus. And the vocals? Theyíre in control but with just the right amount of edge. They donít mimic, yet feel familiar. Like everything else here, itís not new, but it works. Works in a way you can only begin to think of. Unless that is you get hold of this material, in which case you can hear for yourself.

Now, Iím not the biggest fan of this type of music, and certainly no expert, so those that consider themselves to be just that may take this with a pinch of salt. But personally on the basis of these four songs, Blackrock might just be the best band of this ilk that Iíve heard. Infinitely better than the tiresome Sleep "classic", or the lauded Unida which Iíve said words about elsewhere. Different but better than Queens Of The Stone Age, and Iíve played it more than the Kyuss material that I own, which admittedly isnít much (material that I own I mean!). Someday all of this genre might be this good. In Shallow and Blackrock, once more the UK has itís own champions of a genre. If youíre in any way a fan of the stoner scene, as despicable a name as that is, then check them out, if my waterís correct, then I think youíre going to like this.

Contact: Blackrock c/o Thumb Music

0115 9858444

RDP / Sick On The Bus

The Old Angel - July 25 1999

From the off, this one is about more than just the music. See, last time I saw a gig here, it was 3D House of Beef. That's what, nearly 3 years ago. There was the barman, Bekki and myself. That was it. It was cold damp and a bit miserable.

Now, I won't pretend I've been a regular at The Old Angel over the years, because I haven't. But a few months ago I heard words and discover that there are plans to re-open upstairs for live gigs. And that has finally come to fruition with this one. And it has to be said, it looks and sounds fantastic. It's exactly what Nottingham needs. I mean, this is a good city, but it needs for you to be able to see a gig nearly every night of the week. At the moment, Rock City offers you a Saturday night, and if it's a big band, maybe one in the week. For a city like this, that's simply not enough. There's a burgeoning scene here, and it needs the outlet. The country needs venues like this to support the bands. Ask any unsigned band what one of the hardest things for them to do is, and they'll tell you it's to get a gig. I hope for Nottingham that this is the start. It now has a venue, run by people who actually appear to give a shit about the music. Now it needs people to support it. To check out bands almost irrespective of who it is, but because there's a band playing there. I spoke last year to a guy who runs Cheap Sweaty Fun promotions at TJs in Newport. They've been doing it for over 10 years. He said how they now get people travelling from Gloucester to see gigs there, not because they know who the band is, but because they know it's a CSF promotion, and they trust them. It's an element that is vital to the various music scenes in the UK. You need a combination of bands, venues and punters. This is a place that to me, could host yer Stampin Grounds and the like, and the unsigned bands on Yazcore would make a fitting showcase. Now there's a thought to plant in yer noggin. But it could also host yer American bands. Neurosis would destroy in this place, Unida and the like would be in stoner heaven and all the FatWreckChords style bands that you love and hate. Make it happen. And besides, how can you really fault a place that plays the Medulla Nocte album between bands. Makes a change from the bloody Deftones.

Anyway, to the music. 666 Dead were due to play as well, but due to splitting up earlier on this tour, they well didn't play.

So the honour of opening this thing up goes to Sick On The Bus. 4 blokes playing old style punk with a bit of the Lemmy on vocals, it's not actually to bad. The tunes come and go thick and fast and those it's not life changing for me, it's ok. Mind you, playing a flying V ain't very punk. That's a metal guitar there mate!

RDP are from Brasil, have guested on the last Sepultura album, and have a singer who though big, I'm still claiming ain't as big as Jammer from the Nocte. But they power through a crushing set. I don't know the songs, or what they're about as they're for the most part in Portugese. But it's a tight sweaty affair and is a fine way to set this place up and running. And besides, there can't be many better ways to finish a gig than with a song called Fuck Off And Die.

So there you go, not much about the music, but tonight was about more than that.