Lists / Music

Nine Bands You Need To Hear

After completing a degree in Music Management @ LIPA I worked in the music industry for 7 years before I set off on my travels. Aside from travel, music is another passion of mine. I have worked in several areas; publishing; merchandise; booking; but our primary business was management. It’s an interesting but stressful business. Things constantly change and evolve and managing “creatives” is not always an easy task. You have to work fast and adapt to working with many different personalities. Great musicians are not necessarily great business men and that’s where management is important.

When I first started the job, my family “didn’t like metal music”. They assumed all metal music was the same; the type of music that was unnecessarily loud and where you couldn’t hear the lyrics. After some persuasion however, I did manage to get them to give a few of our acts a chance. As with all genres there are different sub genres, some much more appealing than others. Within the broad “metal” scene there really is something for everyone. After giving the likes of Opeth and Anathema a chance my dad now proudly owes their entire back catalogue!

I’ve worked mainly within the Rock and Metal genres and while my personal taste varies greatly (from Pantera to Paul Simon) I’ve worked with some of the most interesting, exciting and creative bands you have to hear:

Devin Townsend

12112262_1091156614242993_2292398306665613109_n (1).jpgI don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that Devin Townsend (formally of Strapping Young Lad) is a creative genius. His talent as a musician and performer is staggering, not to mention he’s a genuinely nice guy.

His musical offerings range from the tranquil Ghost album to the heavier Deconstruction album, which I can only describe as a musical ‘headache’. Along side his alter-ego Ziltoid his performances are captivating and his charisma shines on stage. I would challenge anyone to go to a Devin show and not feel like they have witnessed a musical and theatrical masterclass.

Recommendations:

  • DVD: Ziltoid live at the Royal Albert Hall (I was lucky enough to be at this show and it was incredible)

  • Album: Infinity

Opeth

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Opeth is a Swedish metal band formed in 1990 with 11 studio albums under their belts. Although often referred to as progressive they incorporate folk, jazz, blues and classical influences into their music. Opeth music is intellectual. They create music that makes you think and it can sometimes take a while to appreciate just how clever it is.

Live, the band is made up of top class musicians who consistently produce near faultless performances. Unlike Devin and his heavily produced stage shows, Opeth’s live presence is more stripped back but no less captivating.

Recommendations:

  • DVD: The Roundhouse Tapes

  • Album: Black Water Park

Grave Pleasures (previously known as Beastmilk)

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Grave Pleasures were built from the demise of Beastmilk; a band who were raved about in the press regarding their debut release “Climax”. Having worked closely with this band through it’s transition to Grave Pleasures and the release of “Dreamcrash” I can honestly say that this is a intriguing band and that I am excited for what it still to come.

Describing themselves as Apocalyptic death-rock they manage to remain current while retaining a retro feel. The material is multi-layered. With “Climax” it was hard to know whether you wanted to dance or headbang. There’s a groove to the music that is undeniable. With only the two albums to offer so far I strongly advise you to check them both out.

Recommendations:

  • Album: Climax

  • Album: Dreamcrash

Anathema

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Anathema hail from Liverpool, UK, a city which I am personally very fond of, having been to university there. The band has been established since the early 90’s but currently consists of three brothers: Vincent, Daniel and Jamie Cavanagh and siblings John and Lee Douglas.

The band have a stunning anthology of tracks that are performed live with an unmistakable intensity and passion. ‘Distant Satellites’, their latest studio album, is mesmerising from start to finish and is one of my top albums of 2014.

I was lucky enough to see the band perform many times. One stand out performance was an acoustic set in Liverpool Cathedral, March 2015, which was filmed for a DVD. It’s hard to find the words to describe the event justly. The atmosphere was electric, the setting was perfect and the performance itself was stunning. Lee’s beautiful vocals sounded as perfect as on the album recording and the musicianship of the cleverly crafted songs and meaningful lyrics shone through.

While some of the bands early work is of a heavier nature their catalogue offers something for everyone. For those who “don’t like metal”, I’d start at “Distant Satellites” and see where it takes you.

Recommendations:

  • Album: Distant Satellites

  • DVD: A Sort of Homecoming

Paradise Lost

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Paradise Lost are a Gothic metal band with a long, successful career behind them and thirteen albums in their discography. The English band are considered to be pioneers in the death/doom/gothic genre. Despite this, Paradise Lost hadn’t been a band I’d paid too much attention to before I started my job. Sure, I’d heard of them but I couldn’t have told you much about them.

Having listened to their albums throughout my time in the office and seeing them live on numerous occasions I have come to love this band. While not consistently great live, when they are, they are superb. It’s hard to explain how going to see a band so inflicted with melancholy can make you feel energized but they can. Their music might be based on themes of misery and pain but the compositions are utterly impressive.

In September the band performed at the Roman theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria with a full orchestra. This reinforced my thoughts that this band are more than worthy of their pioneer status.

Recommendations:

  • Album: The Plague Within

  • DVD: Symphony For The Lost

Hexvessel

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Hexvessel is fronted by the same vocalist as Grave Pleasures but is an entirely different type of project.  This is a ‘Psychedelic Forest Folk’ band. I find their latest album “When We Are Death” fascinating and somewhat hypnotising. I get the same ‘trippy’ vibe that I got from hearing some of The Doors songs for the first time.

While I can’t see this band being huge or taking the music scene by storm, they produce some wonderful music and a live experience that is on point.

Recommendations:

  • Album: When We Are Death

Katatonia (No, not the Welsh rock band featuring Cerys Matthews!)

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When you mention that you manage bands, you are frequently asked if people would know any of the acts. I then proceed to reel off a list of our bands to mostly blank expressions! This is, until I mention Katatonia, which is when people often assume we are managing the Welsh rock band featuring Cerys Matthew.

In reality, the Katatonia that we managed is a Swedish metal band who, like Paradise Lost, have several albums and a long career behind them. They are one of the bands that I was a fan of before I started working with them and since then I have been on tour with them several times. They are smart guys and skilled musicians.  Their albums are haunting and exhilarating and definitely a band you should check out.

Recommendations:

  • Album: Night Is the New Day

  • DVD: Last Fair Day Gone Night

Messenger

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Messenger are a band that I was introduced to through our publishing company. They are a Psychedelic/Progressive rock quintet from London, UK. A relatively new band, only formed back in 2012, they have released two amazing albums: “Illusory Blues” and “Threnodies”. Their songs have a dreamy feel with blues influences and beautiful harmonies. There is a groove to the songs that catches your attention and holds you there within the melody.

Recommendations:

  • Album: Illusory Blues

Bloodbath

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One for the lovers of heavier music, Bloodbath is a supergroup formed from members of Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost.  With some controversial lyrics and song titles this is certainly not a band for everyone but live they come into their own.

If you are easily offended or dislike heavier death metal, give this band a miss.

Recommendations:

  • Album: The Fathomless Mastery

  • DVD: Bloodbath Over Bloodstock

 

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