Category Archives: Celtic Metal

2016 REVIEWS ROUND-UP PART ONE. PINT KILLERS, THE MUCKERS, NOWHEREBOUND, HOIST THE COLOURS, SKILTRON, BAY STREET BASTARDS

Every year we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just cannot keep up with everything out there. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 1 of our 2016 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but it has been impossible to keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2016 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. This time round we head to the America’s. Well four from the USA, one from Canada and one from Argentina!

PINT KILLERS- ‘Boston Brewed’ EP (CDbaby)

pintkillersYeah I know we are hardwired to like ANYTHING that comes out of Boston but this is some killer street punk right enough. Only founded earlier this year Pint Killers feature ex-members of Nowhere USA, Dot Rats, Third Knuckle, The Struggle and the Pug Uglies. “Boston Brewed Punk Drinking Songs And Anthems” they call it and fair enough that’s exactly what you get. Their shared Irish ancestry looms large over everything they do in this four track EP about celebration, drinking, friendship, and brotherhood. The songs flash by in… well a flash of only eight minutes. Fists in the air and heads down working class punk rock, or blue collar as the Yanks prefer to put it. All the songs burst with energy but it’s the longest track ‘Around The Hood’, all of two and a half minutes!, that tick’s all the boxes for me. It may not have bagpipes but so what! And what a great name too…

 THE MUCKERS- ‘The Muckers’ LP (iTunes  GooglePlay)
the-muckers-2016The Muckers are coming at you from Atlanta city in Georgia in the deep south of America. The city rose from the ashes of the Civil War to become a major city and later on in the decades following the Civil Rights Movement, during which the city earned a reputation as too busy to hate for it’s progressive views compared to other cities in the deep south, attained international prominence. The band take their name from the word ‘mucker’, a colloquialism meaning good friend used in main by the Irish and people from Yorkshire in England. The Muckers are Atlanta’s only Irish rock band with a massive following in the city among the Irish and their friends. A five-piece folk-rock band that as well as a strong emphasis on Irish music also blends in influences of gypsy music, sea shanties, country, rockabilly and anything else they can get their hands on. Eleven songs( and a mental hidden track!!) lasting well over forty minutes and what you get is exactly what is outlined above. Kicking off with a short accordion intro it soon launches into the superb ‘There is A Time’ with very much a bluegrass feel. Other notable songs here include both ‘Molly’ and ‘Eddie Connors’ which were originally recorded by a couple of The Muckers old bands but given a real lease of life here. A few self penned numbers and some standard Irish covers make up the rest of the album. A great knees up of an album with a grand sense of humour and infectiously good fun and well played.

NOWHEREBOUND- ‘Hearts And Arrows’ LP  (Bandcamp)
nowhereboundWe have been long time fans of Texan band Nowherebound and while they may not be a celtic-punk band, or even a folk-punk band, but they are simply fantastic so deserve their spot here. If you can imagine a fast and heavy punk rock band that somehow manages to squeeze enough folk melodies into their songs then that’s them. A folk band in all but their music! Coming out of the same camp as punk bands like Social Distortion, Rancid, and Gaslight Anthem but with their cap tipped firmly in the direction of the Murphys or The Pogues. Much more straight up punk rock then their previous releases have been they toured Europe again in 2016, for the umpteenth time, but unfortunately have not made it to Blighty yet. From hard rock in-yer-face to pop punk melodies to raise-your-glass-and-sing-along-anthems Nowherebound that hit you in both the heart and the head.
HOIST THE COLORS- ‘Mourners’ LP  (FromTheBand  iTunes)
hoistthe-colorsOne of the better known of the North American celtic-punk bands Hoist The Colors come from the urban metropolis Los Angeles. They play a blend of punk rock, trad Irish, Americana and bluegrass that is as original as the city they call home. Now this is one album I would have loved to have gone into real detail about but it only landed in LCP Towers a few days ago so I am having to write this on just a handful of listens. And my first impression is the same as my tenth. It’s a fecking masterpiece! A wonderful LP that really shows the depth of the scene and the willingness to push the boundaries of what is celtic-punk. From first track ‘Little Rebel’ right through to ‘Something More Than This’ their is not a single bad track on Mourners. The title track was the first song released from the album and came with a superb video. Excellent use of the mandolin and the punchy punk rock keeps the toes a tapping.

The second release from Mourners was ‘Rainier’ and for me was the album standout. Fast paced, punk rock that is accessible without being at all lame and again some excellent mando to keep the celtic among us happy. The rest of the album flows as smoothly as a pint of Guinness with the music uptempo and catchy as hell. Twelve songs and a running length of almost fifty minutes of non-stop quality celtic-punk that would surely be loved by anyone from you’re studs’n’spikes nephew to your auld Nanna.
and from South of the border we have

SKILTRON- ‘Legacy Of Blood’ LP  (From The Band  iTunes)

skiltron

At the forefront of the Folk-Metal genre, though really it is in fact Celtic-Metal, Skiltron were formed in 2004 and come from Argentina. Now thats not so strange as it may appear as plenty of Celtic people emigrated there back in the day mostly Irish and Welsh. In 2016 they embarked on an epic European tour taking in an amazing nineteen countries in under two months. I missed their London date as it was my brothers wedding unfortunately but was absolutely stunning from other people told me. We have touched on metal a few times here and there seems to be a quite a scene growing out of what was once a handful of bands. We even have a London based celtic-metal band worth checking out Isamos (here). Legacy Of Blood is only eight songs long but as you can imagine it’s all quite epic and the songs take their time. The longest track is also my favourite, ‘Sawney Bean Clan’, about a clan of Scottish  murderers who reportedly killed and ate over 1,000 people anywhere between the 13th and 16th centuries.

It’s fast metal music with two bagpipes at times and the sound is quite incredible. The whole album is brilliant and if you like the sound of bagpipes then open your mind and get on board here. Fast as feck with rapid drumming and Scottish topics with clearly sung lyrics. No growling or grunting here!! I love it and seeing as how we have recently made friends with the people who put the gig on in London we hope to be bringing some more of this interesting scene to London soon.

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BAY STREET BASTARDS- ‘Small Batch’  (Bandcamp)
baystreetbastards
The Bay Street Bastards from the wonderful sounding Thunder Bay in Ontario in east-central Canada. The band proclaim their influences on their Facebook page as
“Canada, hockey, metal, punk, beer”
and listening to this corker of an EP that figures! WE caught their debut album in last years Round-Up’s here and if they keep releasing things in December then we’ll never get the chance to do a proper one! Anyhow that was bloody brilliant and this EP continues where they left off. Small Batch begins with ‘Hooligan Crew’ and its fast paced accordion led celtic-punk rock with some great dual vocals, which I always think works well. This is followed by ‘Blood, Sweat & Teeth’ and things speed up with a song that is significantly different from the opener but carries all the same elements. ‘Ships of November’ slows it down a tad and just as you think you’ve a lovely ballad coming along ‘Bang’ and we’re back into celtic-punk territory. ‘Slappywag’s’ appeared on that debut album and has been re-recorded here. It was the standout track then and it’s the standout track here as well. A ton more energy and a ton more oompf where you thought it would be impossible to add but they done it.  Where the fiddle held court last time here it’s the mando and the accordion in charge in a brilliant song about the Bastards favourite boozer. The EP comes to an end with ‘Private Reserve’ and another beauty of a song. Less manic than the previous songs and perhaps the closest they come to sounding like the Dropkick’s. So what you get here are five songs that is over and done in a fast and frantic seventeen minutes. Every song here stands up on it’s own and the Bastards show they ape no one with their subtle changes of style. One of the many things that made their debut album stand out was their innovative style and they have lost none of that here. This isn’t just music for beer swillin’, foot stompin’, mosh pittin’ Canadians it’s music for beer swillin’, foot stompin’, mosh pittin’ wherever you come from!
So ends Part 1 and we are sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full on London Celtic Punks treatment. Apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved the full treatment. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy. Anyhow more to come in Part 2 so check back after Christmas Day and catch up with some more of our favourite 2016 releases from around the world this time. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.
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ALBUM REVIEW: SAOR- ‘Guardians’ (2016)

A unique blend of Scottish folk and atmospheric black metal inspired by traditional Scots poetry and heritage.

saor-guardians

In reviewing this amazing album I really hope i can do it the justice it truly deserves.Sadly celtic-metal is not a music genre I am too familiar with although I can myself returning if theres more bands like Saor knocking around! Now Saor (which means ‘Free’ or ‘Unconstrained’ in Scottish gaelic) are not strictly a band they are the brainchild of talented multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Andy Marshall. Andy was originally a member of Glasgow band Falloch who received great critical acclaim for their debut album Where Distant Spirits Remain in 2011 although Andy left the band the following year. Striking out on his own Andy released his first solo album Roots in May 2013 again to an avalanche of critical applause. There were only four tracks, that came in at nearly fifty minutes long, which upon listening to managed to evoke the essense of Scotland from the first few bars of the self titled opening track. As one reviewer described it

“The sensation of standing among ancient Scottish mountains captured in sonic form, it speaks to my soul, utterly beautiful”

The following year in June, Andy released Aura. A five track album with the sound fleshed out somewhat by several guest musicians. Passionate and majestic the music soars and again won them an array of positive reviews. Around this time Saor played a handful of live shows but it has now been decided that Saor will remain a studio-only project and there will sadly not be any more live shows.

andy-marshall

So after a two year absence Saor have returned with an album laden with their trademark celtic melodies with their new release Guardians out on November 11, 2016Recorded over two years, in Cairndow and the Isle of Skye, Guardians begins with the self titled track and as is the way with a lot of celtic albums its the sound of a running stream and birdsong that opens the song. It doesn’t take long before crashing guitars and the glorious sound of pipes fills the air and we off on our journey. The drums rock in and the speed ramps up and ‘Guardians’ soars and ebbs and flows while Andy gives it that true death metal growl while he’s singing of tragedy and loss.

“On the mountains of heather they slumber together.
On the wastes of the moorland their bodies decay.
How sound is their sleeping, how safe is their keeping
Though far from their kindred they molder away.

Oh, never to perish, their names let us cherish,
The martyrs of Scotland that now are away”

The song lyrics are all inspired in some way from real events in Scottish history and various parts have been taken from ancient Scottish poetry and the absolutely amazing way that Andy has managed to incorporate that into the songs.

In ‘Guardians’ Horatius Bonar poem ‘The Martyrs of Scotland” is utilised while ‘The Declaration’ is inspired by the Declaration Of Arbroath and Robbie Burns. The declaration was in in the form of a letter submitted to the Pope dated 6 April 1320 declaring Scotland’s an independent, sovereign state.

“By oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!—
Let us do or die!”

The words come from a poem previously put to music by The Real McKenzies, the poem ‘Scots Wha Hae’. Written by Burns in 1793 it took the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The song which served for centuries as the unofficial national anthem of Scotland until the present day popularity of ‘Flower Of Scotland’ overtook it. It retains its anger and its passion and Saor pay tribute to it faithfully. The shortest of all the tracks here it still lasts over ten minutes giving it plenty of time to build up and release and build up again. Starting fast before the whole thing slows down for the fiddle while the drumming is simply superb emphasising the sound of the other instruments without ever taking over. The words for following track, ‘Autumn Rain’, come from ‘Culloden Moore’ by Alice MacDonnell and was inspired by her direct descent from a hero of the battlefield.

“Noble dead that sleep below,
We your valour ne’er forget;
Soft the heroes’ rest who know
Hearts like theirs are beating yet”

The battle of Culloden was the final confrontation between the Scots and the English in 1745 and the last major battle fought on this island. Lasting only forty minutes the devastating slaughter marked the end of the military phase of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745/6. Following the battle repression rained down on the native Scots and officers and chiefs who had escaped left for Europe while many of the Jacobite rank and file fled to the American colonies. The sorrow is palpable and Andys voice cries out in pain for them. Even today, they say that the birds don’t sing at the site of the Battle of Culloden. Alice Macdonell of Keppoch, writing at the end of the 19th Century writes of the bleakness of the place, after seeing it in the rain in autumn.

(spare an hour to watch this amazing docu-drama from Peter Watkins made in 1964. Cleverly reconstructing the battle of Culloden as if TV cameras were present.)

Fourth song ‘Hearth’ starts with acoustic guitar and the simple rhythm of the drums before it explodes into action with Andy’s vocals never more powerful than on this song. The words come from ‘My Native Land’ by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Andy sings with a passion here, its the only time on the album you can hear some of the words, and while the words could apply to any country it is Scotland they were written for.

“This is my home
My heart
My soul
My hearth”

This is clearly the most celtic of the songs on Guardians and I love it. The swirling upbeats, the fiddle and tin whistle and the crashing guitars give this song in particular a feel of Scotland.

Guardians ends with ‘Tears Of A Nation’ and the words here come from ‘The Tears of Scotland’ written by Tobias Smollet (1721-1771). As is obvious from the title it’s another mournful tribute to those who laid down their lives over the centuries for a free Scotland.

“Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn”

So while Andy undoubtedly provides the backbone, at the very least, of Saor it would be unfair not to give the guest musicians who also appear a mention here. Bryan Hamilton from Falkirk metallers Cnoc An Tursa on drums, John Becker from Chicago prog-rockers Austaras on strings, Meri Tadić- Fiddle, Reni McDonald Hill on bodhrán and Kevin Murphy on highland bagpipes all provide excellent accompaniment for Andy. Vinyl and tapes will be available soon and the Digipak CD comes with a ten page booklet with lyrics. Guardians may have only five tracks but the word epic could have solely been invented to help me to review this album clocking in as it does at just over fifty five minutes, with each song lasting over ten minutes. As Andy explains

“I start off with a riff or melody on guitar and start recording demos. Once I’ve got the basics down, I begin adding other instruments and vocal ideas. I’ve no idea how the songs become complex and long, it’s just something that naturally happens when I write music”

From the admittedly little I know it would seem that the genre of folk-metal has long been the domain of Scandinavian bands whose traditions and songs seem to more revolve around trolls and Lord Of The Rings-esque characters while the small band of actual Celtic based celtic-metal bands seem to add something more substantial and real. Ireland’s Primordial, the first celtic-metal band, and Cruachan and Saor keep that flag flying and here on Guardians it is that fury and anger at the ills inflicted upon Scotland and the sadness and melancholy of the history of their land while at the same time the realisation that freedom has surely never been so close that gives Guardians such a dramatic feel to it. The music sweeps you away and if like me you are a stranger to celtic-metal then this is a perfect place to start and immerse yourself in the soundscape of Scotland.

(you can listen to Guardians by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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*THIS IS A PRE-ORDER. RELEASE DATE IS NOVEMBER 11TH*- FromTheBand

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ALBUM REVIEW: BARBAR’O’RHUM- ‘Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum’ (2016)

Celtic dancing music with the rhythm of whistles and pipes, the power of electric guitar, bass guitar and drums… and never without a bottle of rum!
Barbar o rhum
Every time (and i mean EVERY single cotton-picking time) I see the town Toulouse mentioned I instantly start singing the Johnny Thunders penned punk rock classic ‘Born To Lose’ in my head. So its been quite hard to stay focused during this review of the debut album from the Toulouse born pirate / celtic-punkers Barbar’O’Rhum.
Barbar3
The idea for the band started in 2008 with Mathieu who began writing songs he hoped one day to get a band together to perform but it wasnt until 2013 that things began to move and within a short while the first incarnation of Barbar’O’Rhum was born. A couple of line-up changes later and with a strong and dedicated line-up they have managed to find time between playing every festival in France to record Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum (All Roads Lead To Rum) their debut album which was released on July 1st this year.
Barbar5

Barbar’O’Rhum from left to right: Corentin (aka Roman Ranger)- electric guitar, backing vocals * Richard (aka Rick O’Shay)- drums, backing vocals * Mathieu (aka Capitaine Barbedrut)- lead vocals, tin whistle, Irish bouzouki, gaita * Colin (aka Ange Oliver) : keyboards, backing vocals. -Jérémy (aka Edward Kidd) : bass guitar, backing vocals

Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum begins with ‘Bienvenue à B’O’R’ and the sound of waves crashing into rocks and slow military style drumming drum up an evocative scene in your head while accordion and bagpipes join in and soon as you get use to that ‘Coeur de l’Océan’ blasts out and is much more your typical celtic ‘punk’ fare.

I say that as it has some massive metal overtones too but without being particularly metal sounding. Like a laid back and more tuneful Alestorm. All the songs here are sung in French and Mathieu has a wonderfully strong voice that is an absolute perfect fit for this music. It doesn’t bother us one bit and if anything prefer a band to sing in their native tongue. After all what would be the point in promoting the celtic languages and then expect everyone else to sing in English! Next up is ‘La République Pirate’ and for me the album highlight. Not one of Barbar’O’Rhum’s fastest songs but the word catchy does not do it justice one bit.

The song tells the interesting tale of the Pirate Republic established at Nassau in the Bahama from 1703 to 1718. With no governor installed the sparsely settled Bahamas become a pirate haven. It was claimed there were over 1,000 pirates in Nassau and that they easily outnumbered inhabitants of the town. The pirates proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as ‘governors’. Maany famous pirates used Nassau as their base such as Charles Vane, Thomas Barrow, Benjamin Hornigold, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and the infamous Edward Teach, known as ‘Blackbeard’. The republic was smashed by 1720 and the pirates returned to plunder the sea. ‘Notre Terre’ is another standout track that again begins with waves and the lonesome sound of a tin whistle that soon enough explodes with rapid and excellent drumming into some kind of celtic-folk-metal masterpiece. This must surely be the one that gets the audience out of their chairs at live gigs I would say. Steel drum kicks off ‘Fille de Joie, Gourgandine’ and the list of instruments here just grows and grows. Keyboards, Fiddle, Electric, Bass, Tin whistle, Irish Bouzouki, Galician Bagpipe and finally drums. Don’t think I have missed anything. ‘Le Trésor Maudit de Barbe-Noire’ and ‘La Danse du Gibet continue in much the same vein with the pirate theme to the fore and the acoustic instruments put to the back and the rockier sound coming out. Next up is ‘La Véritable Histoire du Capitaine Crochet’ and one thing about Barbar’O’Rhum I can tell from listening to them is the amount of lyrics in each song. Obviously these Bhoys have a story to tell that unfortunately I cannot understand. I can hazard a guess that its tales of the sea and of pirates and death and debauchery all presented with crystal clear vocals and bloomin’ brilliant music.

We are nearing the end of our voyage with Barbar’O’Rhum and amazingly the last three songs of the album clock in at over just under twenty minutes but the energy doesn’t let up for a minute. ‘Le Hollandais Volant’ and ‘Dernière Bataille’ steer clear of any prog-rock pretensions while the album’s biggest epic song is saved to close Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum and ‘La Gigue du Pêcheur Pendu’ is well worthy of the word epic. Eleven songs all penned by the band themselves that comes in at a very healthy fifty-nine minutes which gives the songs plenty of time to develop and they also manage that without them becoming overblown like plenty of folk-metal bands seem to do all too easily. Barbar’O’Rhum draw their inspiration from the ocean and their songs are peppered with the sounds of ancient, and not so ancient, sea shanties and the traditional folk music of the Celtic nations. A quick look at the videos may mark them down as just a happy-go-lucky band dressing up as pirates and though I am sure they are enjoying themselves its also clear, even to myself who cannot iunderstand a word of what they are saying, that they are telling a story of days gone by while wrapping it all up in a modern style they themselves have labelled ‘Rock and Rhum!’ Long may they sail and i hope one day they set sail for London too.

(Listen to the whole of the album below on the Soundcloud player)

Barbar1Buy The Album
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ALBUM REVIEW: STRAWDAZE- ‘Sei’ (2015)

Italian celtic-punk with influences of Ireland, heavy metal and ska!

Strawdaze- Sei (2015)

It’s pretty unusual to come across an album in the world of celtic-punk where the songs are in any other language than English so it makes a pleasant change to hear a band that doesn’t seem to mind whether north Americans like them or not! Strawdaze come from Mantua in the province of Lombardy in northern Italy. A survey in 2005 declared Mantua the most ‘liveable’ city in the whole of italy, based on levels of pollution, quality of life, traffic and public transport. They began playing as a covers band in 2008 before making the switch to playing their own material in 2011. Strawdaze released their first record ‘Senza Rotta’ in March 2012 to much acclaim and in December that year they began to work with Dublin based Irish independent record label Nemeton Records which specialises in mainly folk-metal. The new album ‘Sei’ came out on July 2015 and was recorded in Parma by Carlo Izzo.

Strawdaze Folk PunkEleven tracks that last just shy of forty minutes that encompass traditional Irish folk as well as metal, punk and ska influences on this grand album. ‘Sei’ begins with ‘Tu Chi Sei?’ and the banjo starts the song off and soon its all gone celtic-punk and catchy as hell it is too. Its a shame I can’t tell what the lyrics are about as I always find that’s an important element in celtic-punk but I’m positive that they tell of more than just pirates, drinking and fighting! ‘Diritto di Plagio’ is the shortest track on ‘Sei’ a punk rock classic with nice understated banjo and a real catchy chorus. That understated banjo is turned up to 11 on the next song on ‘Immobili’ and along with the whistle we are back in familiar territory with a song the Dropkicks would be proud of. ‘Scegli’ has them with a kind of ska thing going on before the guitars come in. Celtic punk bands have always dabbled in reggae and ska from The Pogues to The Rumjacks and ‘La Rivolta Del Cammello’ is the latest addition. Catchy as ever and with the nice addition of saxaphone this song really works and speeds up nicely towards the end. ‘La Tua Ultima Dose’ is the albums stand out track for me. Fast as hell and pure celtic-punk. The mandolin is working overtime and the great production doesn’t drown out it’s sound despite the loud guitars.

‘LA TUA ULTIMA DOSE’

‘In Una Vetrina’ is a bit of a ska-punk number with tin whistle and reminds me a wee bit of The Offspring. Again great vocals and the band playing very tight together. ‘Esplodi’ begins with tin whistle before, after a couple of false starts, flying off into a fast paced punky number. ‘Sei’ ends with ‘Un Altro Autunno’ and is I am sure one of the reasons that Nemeton Records picked them up. One of the least celtic songs on the album it is nevertheless one of the best tracks. A sort of folk-metal ballad that speeds up in the middle before slowing right down again.

Poster

STRAWDAZE (left to the right): Mirko (voice, whistle), Marco (banjo, mandolin, backing vocals), Stefano (guitars), Gabrile ‘Benji’ (guitars), Carlo (bass, back vocals), Stefano ‘Bolo’ (drums)

All in all a fantastic album that will have instant appeal to all that hear it. Don’t you dare be put off by the fact that it’s not sung in English as the vocals both by Mirko and the gang vocals where the band join in are superb. All instruments are expertly played and even though this is Dropkicks territory I am sure anyone with a interest in celtic-punk or even just celtic music will enjoy them. They have great songs and will I am sure will go on to be adored by both punks and celtic music fans alike.

(to listen to the whole of ‘Sei’ for free press play on the Bandcamp player below)

Strawdaze 2008 Folk PunkBuy The Album

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SINGLE REVIEW: LORETTA PROBLEM- ‘Justice Or Crime’ (2015)

A bunch of Finnish punks and hippies mixing celtic tunes with punk-rock since 1994.

Loretta Problem- 'Justice Or Crime' (2015)

Peace, love and a fistful of middle fingers when needed!

Doing this blog has certainly opened my eyes to the spread of celtic music across the world. Not only with the celtic diaspora re-connecting with their roots but among people with none of those roots in the celtic nations. One country that I had never come across in celtic-punk though was Finland. That changed a month ago when the new single from Loretta Problem turned up in London Celtic Punks HQ. Finland is a music loving country but perhaps is best known here for their Eurovision winners back in 2006 when death metal band Lordi stormed to victory. There is a renowned punk and metal scene much like the other Nordic countries so it should come as no surprise that celtic-punk would make an appearance.What is surprising though is that that band should have been around for over twenty years!

Loretta Problem have only had three releases in all that time with an album and two singles, not much to show admittedly but then Loretta Problem have always prided themselves on being primarily a live band. Their most active period was between 1994 and 1997 and these days they play for fun at a select handful of gigs and festivals every year.

The music itself is well played celtic-punk with with some celtic metal influences thrown in as well. Their sound has adapted and changed over the years and you can hear that development yourselves as the band have kindly put all their releases on Spotify for you to listen for free.

“Once a man ran away from the army
I’m so tired of killing that’s all
I found it so unnecessary cause there’s no winner in war

Judges were noble and fair
War heroes with medals and tails
they put him away without glory and forgot that man in jail

He met her on the street and raped her
laughing all the time just like that
that girl was so young and pretty and the man he was rich and fat

So she cut off his balls and put knife through her heart
oh yes she wanted to die
she was lying in a grave of her own and people wondered why

Justice or crime, what’s right and what’s wrong
justice or crime, well just sing along
the drums are banging so lets start the hanging
and justice wins once again

Justice or crime, who deserves hell
justice or crime, the jury members yell
the drums are banging so lets start the hanging
and justice wins once again

Hey this was only another song of unfairness of life
where everything’s already lost and pens are weaker than knives
Sometimes I hope there would be God waiting for the judgement day
but I’m afraid the winner’s the devil who has taken us all the way

Justice or crime…”

spotify

So click above to hear everything Loretta Problem have ever released.

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ALBUM REVIEW: IRON MOUNTAIN- ‘Unum’ (2015)

celtic acid rock?

Iron Mountain- 'Unum' (2015)

Iron Mountain are an highly original instrumental group based in Limerick City in Ireland. On ‘Unum’ they have created a unique debut album of five sprawling tracks that although reminisent of bands like Mogwai, Low and Planxty actually don’t really sound like them at all. Now I can’t pretend to know much about this style of music so I just have to go on my gut instinct and see how it goes. Iron Mountain themselves describe their music as

“taking elements of post-rock, Irish folk music and kraut-rock to form an energetic sound that is all their own and an embellishment on the members varied musical backgrounds”

The band consists of your usual rock instruments of bass, drums, guitar but they wouldn’t be appearing on 30492-London Celtic Punks if they weren’t accompanied by the uilleann pipes, flute and violin, as well as a whole host of guest appearances ranging from the saxophone to synthesizers to the native American Indian flute. Matt Bashford and Ronan Ryan hold ten All-Ireland medals for their respective instruments on uilleann pipes and flute and their expertise shines through throughout ‘Unum’. The album was written, produced and recorded in Limerick and the production is crystal clear.

Despite being only five tracks long ‘Unum’ clocks in at fifty minutes and ‘Bonfires’ the opening song is a perfect example of the Iron Mountain sound. At just under ten minutes long the slow build up has you thinking where is it going and waiting for the crash and when it comes you will be blown away. The brilliant piping is accompanied by the whole band and ‘Bonfires’ eventually builds to a full-on celtic-rock climax that wil have you on the edge of your seat. ‘Enthralldom’ carries on in much the same way, as does in fact the whole album, and again at just under ten minutes builds to a cresendo of celticness riding atop some quality stoner rock.

‘Blitz’ is Iron Mountains shortest song at just under six minutes and flute dominates while heads down thrashing guitar and distortion also compete. Penultimate song ‘Pow Pow’ has a much slower start and throughout the flute also soars until guitar kicks in and half way through the song takes off before slowing right down again at the end. The final track ‘Opium’ is another epic at nearly  a quarter of an hour long and shows Iron Moutain at their absolute best with the music soaring and their Irish influence dictating the pace of the song.

The video for ‘Opium’ was filmed at the Franciscan Friary in their home town of Limerick and the beautiful setting fits perfectly with the mammoth sound of Iron Mountain’s music.

Iron Mountain

The heavy sound of the rock instruments doesn’t hide their folk tradition and its fantastic to hear Irish/celtic music being adapted and changed to fit in with modern times. As I stated before I don’t know too much about this style of music but I do know what I like and I like Iron Mountain. Each and every play will find you bewitched and finding more and more inside the music to love and enjoy.

Contact The Band

Facebook  Bandcamp  Soundcloud  Twitter  YouTube

Buy The Album

Here

CATCH UP 2014 REVIEWS! BLACK 47, CELKILT, BIG ART PETERS, CRUACHAN, MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE, DUCKING PUNCHES, DEIEDRA, HARD UP, JOHNNY KOWALSKI AND THE SEXY WEIRDOS, LES FOSSOYEURS SEPTIK, NOWHEREBOUND, THE POKES

Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but its been impossible for us to keep up with all the great releases we have come across so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2014 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out.

Black 47- 'Rise Up' (2014)BLACK 47- ‘Rise Up: Political Songs (2014)

A sad year for New Yorks premier celtic-punk band as they finally called it a day after an amazing 25 years together. Influenced by reggae, hip hop and jazz as well as folk and punk I gotta admit I’m a late convert to Black 47 but better late than never. This is a compilation of the best of their political songs. Irish republicanism looms large with the standout tracks the emotional renditions of ‘James Connolly’, ‘The Patriot Game’ and  ‘Bobby Sands MP’. The real standout though is the fantastic ‘San Patricio Brigade’, with the band accompanied by Eileen Ivers, which tells of the Irish deserters from the US Army who fled racism and mistreatment to join the Mexican Army and formed the St Patrick’s Battalion back in 1846. More on that here.

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CELKILT- ‘On The Table’ (2014)

Imagine a catchy as hell pop punk band with fiddle, whistles and bag pipes and a very real foot in celtic history and you have Celkilt from Lyon in east-central France. Their fourth album came out to quite a fanfare and it really deserved it. Influenced from across the celtic nations Celkilt have taken the scene by storm since they arrived and with a continuously evolving and updating sound they need to be heard far and wide. Songs on this album represent all the celtic nations but is the Breton sounding title track that steals the show for me. The vocals are in crystal clear English and the production is immaculate!

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BIG ART PETERS- ‘Quit Horsing Around’ (2014)BIG ART PETERS- ‘Quit Horsing Around’ (2014)

An album of laid back country classics from Arturo Bassick, the singer and last remaining original member of 1977 punk rock legends The Lurkers backed by members of German psychobilly band Mad Sin. All great fun and will definitly remind you of those records your mammy loved back when you were a kid. Clearly influenced by Johnny Cash I half expected  Arturo to produce a spoof/jokey album but no its serious and shows the upmost respect. I can see yet another door opening for this already busy and very talented geezer.

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Cruachan- 'Blood For The Blood God' (2014)CRUACHAN- ‘Blood For The Blood God’ (2014)

Formed in Dublin back in 1992 Cruachan are one of the world’s top celtic/folk-metal bands. I must admit to a very limited knowledge of that suprisingly busy and popular scene and anything I know comes from this previous article here on the blog entitled ‘Celtic Metals Top Five Bands’. You would think not for the faint hearted but it is in fact very listenable and the folk influence is massive. This is the second instalment of a planned ‘Blood…’ trilogy and is their seventh album. The songs deal with stories from Irish mythology and chugging riffs compete with traditional Irish jigs to make a gloriously epic album.

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MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE- ‘Columbia’ (2014)

Hailing from Portland, Oregon this is My Life In Black And White’s fourth album and their blend of Social Distortion style punk and folk has got them plenty of notice. Whiskey soaked singalongs and ballads sitting next to a rough punk sound with fast drum beats and distorted guitars where you can still hear the acoustic guitar strumming away in the fantastic mix. The best bands draw inspiration from past wars and cultural struggles and so do My Life In Black And White thus they bring a strong sense of folk tradition to the songs so that even on the punker songs a strong sense of the past shines through.

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DUCKING PUNCHES ‘Dance Before You Sleep’ (2014)

New band to me hailing from Norwich away there on the east coast of England and one of many where the band members are, or use to be, members of more conventional punk rock bands. Really nice folky punk with biting lyrics and a real threat in what they say that belies the ‘nice’ music. Great storytelling songs and catchy as feck music. Highly recommended and I look forward to seeing more of these this year. A brilliant scene developing in Norwich with bands taking in every angle of celtic/folk-punk. Watch out for the East Town Pirates too.

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Deiedra-DEIEDRA- ‘Usteak Ustal’ (2014)

There has always been great links between the celtic nations and the Basque people. Both share histories of oppression and the scars of colonialism. Some even say that the Irish and the Basques are the same linked through their DNA. Deiedra play immaculate Irish folk filtered through Basque ears and sung in their native language. Some of the tunes are familiar but all are stamped with Deiedra’s own style.

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HARD UP ‘Penury’ (2014)

Leftie folk-punk that reminds me of Mischief Brew or The Dead Maggies. From Montreal in Quebec they sing in English and even though it could have benefited from a better production but as ‘Penury’ was recorded in a loft Hard Up can be forgiven. A lovely bit of DIY folk-punk with great storytelling lyrics and banjo playing.

“folk is a music for the people by the people there’s no room for blind faith at all”

Only twenty minutes long but rattles along at a great old speed and keeps up the catchiness all the way through. Available for Pay What You Want so why not take a chance on them. You’ll not regret it.

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JOHNNY KOWALSKI AND THE SEXY WEIRDOS- ‘Kill The Beast’ (2014)

Second album from this Birmingham based band that combines elements of ska, celtic, balkan, punk, rock’n’roll, mariachi, carnival and a whole lot more that I havent yet realised into the tumbler and gives it a good shake before knocking it back. A rollicking good time to be had by these. Nothing too serious just a seriously great time…

“He gathers forth distrusting words
He reach a stream, he can’t cry out
After knowledge always doubt
When over the hill there comes a shout
The distant smoke, the smell of stout”

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LES FOSSOYEURS SEPTIK- ‘La Pelle du désordre’ (2014)

They come from France and even though I don’t speak French Les Fossoyeurs Septik sound very pissed off! All yer classic bits of folk-punk and folk and punk are complimented by some very good reggae touches that don’t sound out of place at all. Another band in Mischief brew territory but with none of the Americana of said band these are French and sound like it. Like I said have got no idea what their singing about except they support the Animal Liberation Front so unfortunatly they got a lot to be pissed off about so. Their are only the occasional celtic moments but don’t let that put you off definitley worth keeping an eye on.

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NOWHEREBOUND- ‘Mockingbirds’ (2014)

Formed in 2010 out of the ashes of local Austin, Texas punk bands Nowherebound’s third album is more punk than previous ones have been but the same touches that impressed me with My Life In Black And White’s album (see above) are also evident in heaps here. The acoustic guitars have been retired but the sound of Nowherebound hasn’t changed. Thank feck! From hard rock in-yer-face to pop punk melodies to raise-your-glass-and-sing-along-anthems Nowherebound hit you in the heart and head.

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THE POKES 'Mayday' (2014)THE POKES ‘Mayday’ (2014)

Last one and its The Pokes from Berlin and on first listen it was legendary North-Eastern England band The Whiskey Priests that it reminded me of. Celtic-punk without being particularly celtic it is nevertheless absolutely superb party music and looking at their videos they are something else live. Their fourth album and much the same great fiddle, banjo and accordion wrapped around clear vocals and often hilarious lyrics. Influences abound with everything from ska to polka sticking their nose in and combining to prove why The Pokes are one of the best and most popular bands in Germany.

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apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved the full LONDON CELTIC PUNKS treatment but time has got the better of me. If anyone out there wants to help out on the reviews front drop us a line. Don’t be shy we are always looking for help.

CELTIC-METAL’S TOP FIVE BANDS

Having touched on celtic-hip hop last week I’ve since been looking into the genre of celtic metal which basically combines celtic folk music with heavy metal of course. With Scandinavian heavy metal bands delving back into the history of their respective countries for years now and adding elements to their music it was only a matter of time before bands from the celtic nations started to do the same.

Celtic Metal

These are my top five celtic metal bands as well as what are considered to be their best albums and where they come from with a wee bit of info added. It’s all my opinion of course and I’d be the first to admit that my knowledge of metal and celtic metal is pretty limited so if you know any others please feel free to leave a comment.

1. Primordial (Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand) Dublin, Ireland

Formed back in 1987 they originally started as a standard metal band but slowly their sound began to become more epic and the use of celtic instruments pushed them into a new sound.

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2. Waylander (Kindred Spirits) Armagh, Ireland

Formed in 1993 and dogged by the coming and going of band members over the years and various record label problems but still going strong…

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3. Cruachan (Pagan) Dublin, Ireland

Formed in 1992 and originally a band influenced by Vikings and Tolkien they soon evolved into one of the original celtic-metal bands. More information and discography and videos here.

Web-Site  Facebook

Folklore, Cruachan’s third album was  recorded by and features vocals by the legendary Shane McGowan of the Pogues and the single ‘Ride On’ reached number 40 in the Irish charts.

4. Alestorm (Black Sails at Midnight) Perth, Scotland

Formed in 2006 and describing their sound as ‘true Scottish pirate metal’. Two Scots and two Irishmen make up this band of buccaneers so that puts them firmly in the celtic-metal camp! Like all these bands absolutely huge on the continent and getting more and more popular here all the time as well.

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5. Mägo de Oz (Gaia) Madrid, Spain

Formed in  1989 they’re well known for the strong celtic feel to their music strengthened through their constant usage of a violinist and flute. The name means ‘Wizard of Oz’ in Spanish!

Web-Site   Facebook  where they have over 2million likes!

  • For our article on celtic hip-hop go here for ‘Celtic Hip-Hop’s Top Seven Bands And Artists.

UPDATE

cheers for D for extra information. rather than just cut and paste from it if you’re inclined then head over to Rate Your Music here and for some music here.

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