The sun is shining and the temperature’s rocketing (details correct at time of writing). So what could be more fun than piling into a packed and sweaty venue to enjoy some earsplitting industrial metal, black metal and psychedelic prog. Gluttons for punishment? That’s us . . .
SWX, July 2
Gnarly old Al Jourgensen has as strong a claim as anyone on having invented industrial metal. He evolved from ’80s synth-pop to hit a creative and commercial peak with Ministry’s platinum-selling 1992 album Psalm 69, whose opening double-whammy of N.W.O. and Just One Fix has arguably never been bettered in the genre. There have been plenty of Ministry albums, of decidedly varying quality, since then. But living in Trumpland inspired Angry Al to get more-than-usually ranty on the band’s 2018 Nuclear Blast debut, AmeriKKKant. Ministry’s first album in five years, and their first since the death of guitarist Mike Scaccia, it takes aim at fake news, internet trolls, the alt-right and general modern American idiocy – plus, of course, The Donald himself, whose inuguaration speech is sampled extensively. Growled Al: “I’ve spoken my piece on the societal conditions that would elect such a blithering idiot. It’s not an anti-Trump album, it’s like a ‘did you pay attention in School? Does anybody have any intellectual curiosity anymore?’ album.” Yup, this is fish-in-a-barrel stuff, but the furious bombast seems appropriate. Supporting Ministry on what is fast becoming their annual visit to Bristol are chip-off-the-old-block LA-based political industrial metallers 3TEETH, whose latest video, for President X (above), appears to endorse the amusing Icke thesis that we are being ruled by lizard people.
SWX/TheLanes/Rough Trade, July 6
Spread across three venues, Bristol’s very own psych festival (formerly known simply as Bristol Psych Festival) has a fair bit of crossover with this section. So if you like your musicians hairy and guitars fuzzy, head on down. Thurston Moore is the headliner, but we rather like the cut of LA Witch’s jib. Go here for our full preview.
Fleece, July 7
Dutch corpse-painted symphonic black metal on a hot (TBC) summer’s evening? What could be more enticing? Signed to Season of Mist, who can always be relied upon to unearth the most intriguing bands on the fringes of metal (I mean, have you seen Heilung?), their fifth album, Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, is a concept piece about an unwary girl who unleashes multiple sprits of the dead. They headline a big-value multinational four-band bill that also features Finnish ‘winter metal’ act Wolfheart, Colombian black metallers Thy Antichrist and American melodic black metallers Nevalra.
Louisiana, July 10
Another of those bands in the great Bristol tradition of operating in no fixed genre, My Octopus Mind fling sufficient heaviosity and quirky folky proggery into the eclectic mix to merit a place in this section. What’s more, they asked nicely for a mention, so we’re happy to oblige in the spirit of inclusivity. Their Louisiana show is to launch debut album Madalyne Cave, which, we’re told, was two-and-a-half years in the making. Support local talent and check ’em out. Get there early for fellow Bristolians The Evil Usses. After all, it’s hard to resist a band inspired by Bill and Ted.
SWX, July 20
CANCELLED – Apparently the Space Lord Motherfucker is having trouble with his tonsils, so the whole tour’s off. Bummer, man.
Exchange, July 20
Yep, Wino’s back! Now something of a fixture at the Exchange, either with Saint Vitus or his original proto-doom trio The Obsessed, this weathered underground metal legend was once deported from Norway, shortly after a show at the Fleece, for being found in possession of enough methamphetamine to fell an elephant. Anyhoo, The Obsessed formed in 1976 and are currently on their third reunion. Actually, I say ‘reunion’ but it’s just Wino with two new chaps. 2017’s Sacred, their first album in 23 years, was well received and is something of a must for anyone interested in doom’s deep roots in old-skool blues rock. Support tonight comes from Bristol’s very own Gonga.
Fleece, July 25
We wouldn’t normally include covers bands or tribute acts in this section, but like Dread Zeppelin (remember them?) before them, this reggae collective manage to do something interesting and imaginative with classic rock. Their first and best album, 2003’s Dub Side of the Moon, was a full reggae reworking of the Floyd classic Dark Side of the Moon. Since then, they’ve branched off into less interesting territory with reggaefications of Radiohead and Michael Jackson, before returning to Floyd with 2010’s Dubber Side of the Moon. The good news is that they’re promising to play Dub Side of the Moon in full tonight in honour of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Moon landing. OK, it’s a feeble excuse, but we’ll take it.
Ebbw Vale, July 26-28
Steelhouse and ArcTanGent are the only local-ish festivals catering to our tastes, so here’s a gratuitous plug for the self-styled Welsh International Classic Rock Festival, which occupies one of the loveliest, most scenic sites of any festival in the UK. It’s also, ahem, rather at the mercy of the elements, being officially “the highest festival in the UK” on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. This year’s line-up includes the current iteration of Thin Lizzy (including moonlighting Mastodon fella Troy Sanders, clearly living the dream), the mighty Thunder (last seen locally doing the unplugged thing at Bath Forum), the great Uriah Heep (last seen locally at the Marble Factory in 2015), the fabulous Living Color, and the absurdly talented Temperance Movement (last seen in Bristol supporting Blue Oyster Cult). Be sure to catch Bristol’s very own rising stars Tax the Heat too. They’re playing on Sunday.
Fleece, Aug 1
Yeah, yeah, this is actually in August. But Rosalie deserves a break, so we’re damn well going to provide it with this advance plug. We were very fond of her proggy psychedelic band Purson, who never achieved the success they richly deserved and eventually split in 2016. After that, she embarked on a crowd-funded solo project but was cruelly fucked over in the great Pledge Music fiasco. The good news is that her eponymous debut album has been picked up by Cherry Red for a rather belated release on July 26. Word is that she continues very much where she left off, concluding the album with a 14-minute psychedelic prog epic. Be sure to take some extra loot along to support this great British talent by buying a copy. This is a co-headlining show with Goldray, whom we last saw supporting the Von Hertzen Brothers at this very venue, so they’ll collectively require an additional bus to bring the dressing-up box.
Here’s our essential diary of upcoming gigs that should be of interest to anyone of a rockin’ disposition.
Animals as Leaders, SWX, Aug 4
Skunk Anansie, O2 Academy, Aug 19
Rock Goddess/Heavy Pettin’, Exchange, Sept 1
Jason and the Scorchers/Dan Baird/Kentucky Headhunters, O2 Academy, Sept 8
Paul Gilbert, Fleece, Sept 16
Rodrigo y Gabriela, Bath Forum, Sept 24
Chon, Fleece, Sept 26
Volbeat/Baroness/Danko Jones, O2 Academy, Sept 28
Martin Turner, Exchange, Sept 29
Sleep, SWX, Oct 6
Black Star Riders, O2 Academy, Oct 10
Gloryhammer, SWX, Oct 20
Sunn O))), SWX, Oct 24
Sons of Liberty/Black Whiskey/Trouble County, Louisiana, Oct 26
Fever 333, SWX, Nov 1
Opeth/The Vintage Caravan, O2 Academy, Nov 3
Michael Monroe, Fleece, Nov 7
Rival Sons, O2 Academy, Nov 7
Marillion, Bath Forum, Nov 9
Periphery, O2 Academy, Nov 11
Lacuna Coil/Eluveitie, SWX, Nov 15
Hawkwind, Anson Rooms, Nov 19
Steve Hillage/Gong, O2 Academy, Nov 20
Steve Hackett, Bath Forum, Nov 20
Jinjer, Exchange, Dec 4
The Darkness, Bath Pavilion, Dec 7
Dan Reed Network/Gun/FM, O2 Academy, Dec 9
Delain, Anson Rooms, Feb 8