Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016 Chronicles Part 4

Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016 Chronicles up next:
This is by no means a detailed account of our days spent with the iconic band Onslaught. In fact this merely scratches the surface of the wealth of information, advice, experience and friendship we have built with the band’s members.
For those of you who dare not know Onslaught, this is one of the pioneers of British Thrash Metal, formed in 1982. While the world is much aware of the Big Four and the American Thrash bands, and in fact Thrash is known to be an American genre, Onslaught, like most British Thrash bands, has remained underrated, despite being a highly respected band in the realm of Thrash metal and among its fans. They released their first album "Power From Hell", in 1985 followed by “The Force” in 1986. "The Force" became one of Thrash Metal’s classic albums, most probably one of the few outside the American arena. It is this album's 30th anniversary that Onslaught set out to celebrate by touring the world in 2016 (and of which we supported the European leg during the Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016)
It took three years to follow up on "The Force", and here, ladies and gentlemen, is an epic example of how the music industry can destroy a band. Because of the success of "The Force", Onslaught was signed to London Records, a major semi-independent label at the time and one of the biggest in the UK. The label decided that the band needed a new vocalist, and despite the band having another opinion, they changed the frontman and made the sound much more polished. “They [London Records] wanted a British version of Metallica” said Sy Keeler to our frontman. Subsequently the follow up record was much different from the first two, especially "The Force", and fans were disappointed, which led to poor sales that contrasted greatly with the intense pre-release publicity the label had given the record. Poor sales led the label to drop the band, leaving them without a contract, after ruining their career. Eventually this also led to the band's break-up in 1990, a classic example, again, of how clueless music industry people can destroy a very successful band.
The band reunited in 2005, and later released the highly acclaimed “Killing Peace” (2007) album, followed by “Sound Of Violence” (2011) and their latest “VI” (2013). Refusing to be a nostalgic band, these releases have defied the limitation of the Thrash genre, and have been classified by many as the benchmark of “Modern Thrash”.
During our 16 days of debauchery with Onsalught on tour, we met these kind gentlemen:
Nige Rockett: Apart from being the mastermind behind Onslaught, as a main composer and lyricist and Rhythm Guitarist, Nige is a quiet fellow, maybe quiet is an understatement! More accurately, Nige is a mystery, yet a pleasant one. He keeps to himself most of the time, but would never refuse a conversation. He’s extremely supportive and a pure soul.
Sy Keeler: We’d expected the monstrous voice of Onslaught to be an angry, threatening figure of a person. But other than the fact that he is very tall and very well built, Mr. Sy is just a sweetheart. WHAT? Can’t a metal god be a sweetheart?! At age 54, his voice is incredible, from guttery devilish growls to high pitches, Sy's got it all. His knowledge of music is vast, in all senses of the word. His sense of caring about everyone around and urge to help, his calm and soothing presence, and his eternal smile make you feel a deep yet unexpected sense of serenity.
Jeff Williams: THANK GOD FOR JEFF. This is what we can say about this incredible person. Jeff joined Onslaught as Heavy Armoured Infantry (Bass Guitar) in 2006. Jeff kept the tour fun at all times, from endless (and sometimes embarrassing) challenges that he would set us up to do on stage, to the sheer fun and laughter that we had. He was the first to listen to Blaakyum’s album in its entirety and give us critical feedback. Jeff was there for us all along, watching our every show every single night, and guiding us towards showmanship. Jeff is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to music industry and band management know-how. His feedback and guidance were essential for Blaakyum and in fact, transformed us from a local act to something much better. It is because of Jeff that this tour went from a lot of fun to tons of fun!! And we are up for the next challenge mate.
Mike Hourihan: Mike is Onslaught’s Artillery commander-in-chief (Drummer). His drumming prowess made him sought after by many bands, and he is currently performing with two other bands: Desecration, and Extreme Noise Terror. Mike is an incredible and relentless drummer, which is evident; what is not evident, is that he has a degree in Astrophysics!!!! FUCK, what a blow to the stereotype image of a Metal rock star!! Aren’t Metalheads and Metal Musicians supposed to be marginal illiterate idiots (nudge nudge Middle Eastern society)!? What a sad day for social conformists.
Iain 'GT' Davies: Iain is the newest and the youngest member of Onslaught. Taking over the Lead Guitar role, Iain joined Onslaught in 2015, though most probably Iain has been around before then, as when we were watching Onslaught’s DVD “Live at the Slaughterhouse”, Iain makes a brief few seconds appearance in the documentary that was filmed in 2014. Iain can be usually found in the backstage areas strapped to his tablet, learning and learning whatever he can, and practicing on his machinegun (Guitar). He is tons of fun on stage, and when we shared the stage with Onslaught, Iain and Rabih were usually spotted cracking facial jokes and messing around!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is as we said just the tip of the iceberg of what it was like to be around the almighty Onslaught. This has been a great privilege for Blaakyum, and will probably remain one of the biggest highlights of our career.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016 Chronicles Part 3

Today on Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016 Chronicles, we have the Finnish Melodic Death Metallers Mors Principium Est… If you are wondering what this Latin phrase means, it's “Death is the Beginning”--this being in line with the Finnish personality as the country is filled with dark and cold gloom for 6 months of the year, which defines a lot of Finnish bands’ musical path.
Sadly for this tour the original MPE Drummer and Bassist couldn’t make it due to personal commitments, and their Rhythm guitarist left in 2014. That leaves the band with 2 original members, the wizard Andy Gillion, from the UK, and hellish vocalist Ville Viljanen (cowabunga!!). But the supporting sessionists were incredible as well, and loads of fun: we have Guitarist Tomy Laisto (Tomy was an official member of MPE from 2007 till 2011, will he join back?), Bassist Toni Tieaho and Drummer Liro Aittokoski. Tomy lived up to national expectations by having the darkest sense of humour on the tour. Andy was the one we got to know the most, musically and otherwise. There is something very touching about his melodies, they ensnare you and enchant you (watching Mors Principium Est during the tour became a regular ritual especially for our Drummer and Manager). We also spent many a late night hooked on Andy's surreal humour.
As for the Finns, unlike what you might imagine Death Metallers are like, they were an extremely calm and relaxed bunch off stage. But on stage they just seemed to come from another realm altogether, morbid, melodic and crushing!
It was not till the last day of the tour, before they disappeared into the darkness, that we finally had the time to chill out properly with these amazing guys… thanks to the great cataclysmic socialiser: BEER... but certainly not before witnessing Toni's hilarious 70s-inspired dance moves during the all-band stage invasion on Onslaught's set (more on that to come) \B/
This was Blaakyum reporting from the aftermath of the Thrash Mercenaries Europe invasion of 2016.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016 Chronicles Part 2

Next on Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016 Chronicles, we have No Return. This amazing French band plays a mix of Death and Thrash Metal, with guttery vocals, intricate guitar work and virtuoso solos. Apart from that, they are just a crazy bunch of motherfucking party animals.
It needs to be mentioned that they never were short of support for us, being there in the front row during most of our shows cheering for us. And in true Metal Brotherhood spirit, they helped us set up before almost every gig.
Geoffroy Lebon, the Rhythm Guitarist, was there for us whenever we needed him, setting up before the show and making sure we did not forget anything after it, and he was the one who helped our Bassist Pierre contain the damage of our camper-van after the misfortunate accident we had. On stage he is a monster of a performer.
It was the birthday of the Twins (the Bassist and Drummer) during the tour; that would be the great David and Joël Barbosa respectively, they too were a helping hand when it came to stage set up (thanks, guys!). Alain Clémentthe lead guitarist; we recommend that he insures his fingers, because it is such a sensation when he starts those lead licks. Mick Caesare is the vocalist from Hell. Other than his morbid vocals, he and Pierre were most of the time the ones setting up the back and side drops for all the bands.
Speaking of our bassist, it became evident, since he also is French, and considering that he spent so much time with No Return, that apparently being a party animal is in the French blood. Every time we lost Pierre, we found him somewhere going crazy with the French dudes!!
NO RETURN thank you for all the help and good times \B/.
This was Blaakyum reporting from the aftermath of the Thrash Mercenaries Europe invasion of 2016

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