Thursday, 21 January 2010


Rock ‘n’ roll is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? That joyful, celebratory, life-affirming racket that we fill our ears with every day…it’s one of the few things that stops us all from hurling ourselves in front of a passing bus. And although most of us have neither the cash nor the freedom to truly indulge in the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, it’s still something to which we can intermittently aspire, whether via the medium of a balls-out, drunken Friday night or a brainless, debauched, oh-shit-the-neighbours-called-the-police house party. Failing that, we can always live vicariously through a handful of bands that genuinely walk it like they talk it; the true rock ‘n’ rollers that live life at full throttle, with a semi-drained bottle of Wild Turkey in one fist, a massive bag of illegal drugs in the other and a pair of swivel-eyed groupies doing something unspeakable in the general vicinity of the groin area down below. People like Lemmy. People like KISS. People like Motley fucking Crue. Bands that make an ear-smashing stiff-dick din and put on a show that makes your eyes spin, before buggering off to the dressing room to snort a huge line of tits and throw a tour bus out of the window. Yeah. Rock ‘n’ roll, baby! Living the dream, 24 goddamn 7, with a puke-encrusted t-shirt and shoes that are ACTUALLY ON FIRE RIGHT NOW AND I DON’T EVEN CARE THAT I MAY NEVER BE ABLE TO WALK AGAIN DUE TO SEVERE THIRD DEGREE BURNS!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

So yeah, rock ‘n’ roll is awesome, and it’s always good to hear about new bands that are upholding those wild and crazy traditions. On the other hand, there are few things more depressing and dispiriting than reading interviews with some of the latest generation of mainstream rock bands that are currently being fawned over by certain other publications that you may know and/or love. In a newly published interview that you can read in all its hideous, shameful glory this week, pop-punk fucknuggets All-Time Low have decided to announce that they’re “the Motley Crue of our generation”. Once the mind stops boggling, it’s worth taking a closer look at the interview, because in fairness to these simpering tools, they do seem to be dimly aware of the fact that they are far about as far removed from Nikki Sixx and his drug-munching comrades as it is humanly possible to be. All of which makes this one of the more disingenuous and ultimately meaningless non-stories to hit the internet in recent times. And that’s no mean feat.

But let’s look a little deeper into the mind-blowingly vacuous and creatively dead world of All-Time Low. I’m going to have a little peek at one of their videos on YouTube right now, just for you and in the name of journalistic integrity, research and all that other bollocks. Bear with me a second…

…right, this song is called Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t). It’s really not very good. Something inside me died about 40 seconds in, to be honest. To be fair, it’s probably not aimed at devilishly handsome but slightly overweight 37-year-old music journalists with functioning brains, but by Christ, if this is what gets the blood racing for teenagers these days, I’m absolutely delighted to be a couple of decades ahead and just that little bit closer to death. No wonder these pointless cockwads “always break stuff” when they’re drunk on half a shandy and a packet of Maltesers. It’s probably a necessary exercise in catharsis, as it slowly dawns on them that their band makes McFly sound like Behemoth and that their haircuts look like comedy wigs from a provincial theatre costume cupboard. Like far too many so-called rock bands these days, All-Time Low have no edge whatsoever. They have the slick, over-produced, sing-along tunes, without a doubt, but their music has no balls, no bite and nothing that anyone with healthy sexual organs could possibly describe as charisma. The self-consciously wacky videos, the goofy interviews in which they admit to “stealing parking cones”, the general air of smug, major label complacency…it’s all symptomatic of a generation of bands that have absolutely no fucking clue what rock ‘n’ roll is all about. There’s no hunger here. No energy. No irresistible urge to howl into the void and grab life by the knackers. It’s just safe, tame, painfully polite, utterly joyless and the exact opposite of everything that rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to represent. Lady Gaga is more rock ‘n’ roll than these twats, because at least she has the decency to be a mentalist with a penis.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing mainstream rock bands out there, and some brilliant punk bands and even some great bands that skilfully cross over from pop to punk or vice versa, but when bands like All-Time Low are being promoted as an exciting part of the rock ‘n’ roll world – our world, lest we forget – then we really are in trouble. Can you imagine being on the road with these bell-ends? After a couple of hours of forced wackiness and enough hairspray to suffocate a rhinoceros, you’d be desperate to set fire to them as they slept. Twice.

“We have more fun than most bands in the world,” says drummer Rian Dawson.

You really don’t. Now fuck off. You’re getting on my nerves.

Lots of love,

Dom Lawson xxx



Here we are again, then. Another shiny new 12 months of breathing in, breathing out and trying to avoid being flattened by oncoming vehicles and large, horned mammals. I hope and trust you had a tolerable festive period and didn’t kill yourself by choking on turkey or by discovering, as I did to some considerable cost, that drinking red wine all day and then having a Sambuca/Bloody Mary drinking competition is the fastest way to ensure that Boxing Day is a whole world of horrible hell and PLEASE GOD KILL ME NOW I BLAME THE CHRISTIANS AAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHH! Meanwhile, I also hope that Santa brought you some nice socks and a DVD or two and whatever else it is that keeps you on the right side of thoroughly miserable in your squalid and vile part of the world. I’m a benevolent kind of guy, let’s face it. But enough of the cheery stuff. It’s pretty much beyond dispute that 2009 was a fantastic year for metal (and music in general, I’d say) but a pretty horrific, shit-stained disgrace of a year in every other respect. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, I’m writing this, not you, so shut the fuck up and observe my New Year’s Resolutions, none of which will be kept or taken remotely serious because I’m writing them FOR COMIC EFFECT. Do try to keep up.


1. I WILL TRY, EVER SO HARD, TO STOP SAYING NASTY THINGS ABOUT METALLICA. It’s not like I don’t absolutely love everything they did from the No Life Till Leather demo up to and (possibly) including the Black Album. Metallica are, as we all know, one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time, the undisputed kings of the thrash metal era and one of the only genuinely heavy bands to ever truly conquer the mainstream. For all that, I doff my hat to them many times and at high speed. Yes, I realise I look ridiculous, but at least I’m not Danish. The struggle for me, however, is to fall into line with everyone else and smother my critical judgement in nostalgia and sentiment, rather than face up to the fact that (a) Metallica haven’t made a classic album for nearly 20 years and (b) they’re really not that brilliant live anymore. I did enjoy them at the O2 Arena last year, but my enjoyment was primarily based on the fact that it’s always good to hear those songs being played at ear-mangling volume and seeing thousands of people singing along and punching the air in a euphoric manner. Fun is a good thing. Of course it is. But, and here’s the clincher, I’m lucky enough to have seen Metallica several times “back in the day”, when Lars could still play the drums properly and the band were tighter than an emo kid’s drainpipes. They were so much better back then and played every last riff with utmost conviction and belief. As entertaining as Metallica are these days, they are pretty damn sloppy and sound more like a bunch of middle-aged musos having a jolly good time, rather than a bone-crunching, Devil-worshipping, whisky-stinking heavy metal band at the height of their powers. Megadeth, Slayer and maybe even Anthrax (if they can get their shit together and stop making tits of themselves) will blow them off the stage at Sonisphere in the summer. I’ll bet my knackers on it. But, you know, I won’t say anything nasty about Metallica this year, and nor will any other writers at British rock and metal magazines, all of whom will dish out the customary full marks and bang on about how they’ve just seen the greatest gig of their lives. You disingenuous twats.

2. I WILL DRINK A LOT LESS AND GET SOME EXERCISE. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Oh, I crack myself up. I really do. I might give it a go, though. I do get quite envious of all the people I know that seem to have the time and money to go to “the gym” (whatever that means) and posture and preen while sweating profusely and haemorrhaging money left, right and sweetly narcissistic centre. It’s also undeniably true that our Wii Fit Plus balance board has started to emit little gasps every time I get on it to attempt another heroic bout of ski jumping. It even said “One at a time, please!” last week, in that irritating, child-like, quasi-Japanese voice that the creators of the Wii think will help to encourage you to lose more weight and stop thrusting fistfuls of Quality Street down your neck for six to eight weeks after Christmas. Not me, though. I’m on a high caffeine, low joy diet, as always. Fuck you, Nintendo.


Well, you know it is. You get into a band at the very beginning of their career and then you watch them evolve and grow into something truly special and meaningful…one of those bands that you know you’ll always listen to and love, and that you will want to play to everyone you know (even my mum has an Opeth CD by this point). And then you watch as that band starts to pick up a lot more press and sell a lot more records, and then finally they release an album that introduces them to a much bigger (and worldwide) audience…and then they’re not really just /your/ band anymore, but they still mean a whole lot. And then, because you’re a very lucky boy and have somehow managed to wangle a job as a music journalist despite arguably being better suited to mopping the floor in Burger King, you get to know the band on a personal level, conducting numerous interviews over a ten year period and spending loads of time with them at various venues and festivals around Europe and in the US…and let’s not forget that you also nick loads of their booze and get sexually assaulted by their singer in a coach park in New Jersey…and, well, like I said at the start, you know how it is. I fucking love Opeth and I’m so proud to see them celebrate their 20th anniversary in style. The gigs are going to rule…they’re playing Blackwater Park from beginning to end, in case you didn’t already know…and I am going to be a very pissed and very emotional wreck by the end of it all. My boys. Wonderful.



It can’t. It’s simply unthinkable, and here’s why: there are many things that can and often do go wrong when supposedly legendary bands return after a long hiatus, mesmerised by the delicious allure of the promoter’s chequebook, but nothing can ever…EVER…detract from the overwhelming brilliance and ball-grabbing awesomeness of Kim Thayil’s beard. Never mind the fact that Kim Thayil is one of the greatest guitarists of all time or that Soundgarden were always a million times better and more interesting than Nirvana or that Jesus Christ Pose (along with the vast majority of the band’s catalogue, to be fair) still sounds utterly fresh a full 19 years after it was first released or that the four band members are generally believed to hate each other (which nearly always results in great music with lashings of electrifying edge) or that anything, no matter how tired, feeble or half-arsed, could ever be as appalling as that last Chris Cornell solo album (Dear Chris…that was fucking shit…reform Soundgarden or kill yourself…lots of love, everyone in the world xxx)…no, it’s all about Kim Thayil’s beard, and when you factor in the popular notion that he has been living in the wilderness for the last decade or so, living off fried cactus and wrestling coyotes while whacked off his grunge gourd on mescaline and Mountain Dew, the thought of the great man hitting the stage again and letting rip with those monumental riffs, that vast facial growth flapping gently amid the dry ice as vultures circle overheard…well, it’s pretty fucking exciting, don’t you think?


No, I’m not remotely predictable am I? As much as I hate the phrase “it’s a no-brainer”, this really is a no-brainer. Slayer are always good value for money, Anthrax will probably be hugely entertaining, assuming that they don’t absent-mindedly call John Bush a cunt on the way to the airport, and you can read my views on the ongoing Metallica debacle further up this page, but does Dave Mustaine ever fail to deliver the goods? No, he does not, particularly in recent times when he seems to be one of the only metal legends of his generation to truly understand what it means to honour a legacy and do things properly, performing with musicians who can really cut it, night after night, and making records that simultaneously fit perfectly with the modern era while providing plenty of old school money shots for the ageing faithful. If you don’t own a copy of Endgame yet, get to it. It was the finest metal album released in 2009 and one of the finest of the decade. Any other opinion is idiotic. And you can put that fact in your fact pipe and smoke it. Factually. Now fack off.


So predictable it actually makes my eyes ache, the inevitably glorious return of Iron Maiden, with a new studio album and yet more pant-shreddingly amazing live shows, is one of those banker phenomena that make the slow, knee-bruising crawl through another year’s worth of crushing disappointments, mild irritations and narrowly-escaped beatings just that teensy bit more bearable. A Matter Of Life And Death was one of the greatest albums that the band have ever made, and there’s nothing to suggest that they are not capable of topping it this time round. This might even be the last Maiden album, terrifyingly enough, so it’s hard to imagine Steve or Bruce or any of the band allowing a single second of it to be substandard. I’ve already got through three pairs of underpants today, just from thinking about the Sonisphere show, so I should be swimming in my own man-milk by the time summer arrives. And I can’t swim a stroke. What a way to go.

Arguably the band that most precisely encapsulates what Metal Hammer stands for as a magazine, Iron Maiden have been the soundtrack to most of my life and 2010 will be no different. I’ll see some of you at the shows, I imagine, and you’d better be singing your fucking hearts out. Either that or buying me a pint. Firm but fair. That’s my policy. Happy New Year, fuckers. Horns up!