Tuesday Ten: 080: Swearing

Ideas for future Tuesday Tens are coming thick and fast at the moment, and indeed I have the core of two more already completed too, and this week’s was a late change of plan, mainly after I realised just how many songs could be included. So the other two I have planned will be held off until into August. Read more “Tuesday Ten: 080: Swearing”

Tuesday Ten: 079: Space

A perhaps predictable subject for this week’s Tuesday Ten: it’s all about space, what with it being the 40th anniversary of the first moon landings this week. I’ve always thought of songs written to be about space travel, or related subjects, to be a very common theme, but in the event it actually turned out to be a really bloody hard list to collate. I’m sure that readers of this will suggest many more than I came up with, though… Read more “Tuesday Ten: 079: Space”

Nine Inch Nails – Live at Arena Manchester – 14-July 2009

It took bloody ages to get there – two hours from Sheffield to Manchester, via Woodhead, thanks to Snake being closed and awful traffic in Manchester city centre, and I managed my first longer distance drive without any problems – but last night’s gig was worth every single minute and then some.

Nine Inch Nails
Jane’s Addiction
Live @ MEN Arena, Manchester
14 July 2009

Needless to say, our late arrival meant that we had no chance of catching up with anybody – and only ran into some friends by chance – but we did arrive with time to spare (just) to see all of Jane’s Addiction‘s set.

Jane’s Addiction Setlist:
Three Days
Whores
Ain’t No Right
Then She Did…
Up The Beach
Mountain Song
Been Caught Stealing
Ocean Size
Ted, Just Admit It
Stop!

Which was a bloody good thing, as I’ve wanted to see Jane’s Addiction for many, many years, and I’m happy to say they didn’t disappoint. Helped no end by a beautifully set-up sound that was nice and clear and very, very loud (as well as having huge amounts of bass), they made few concessions to casual fans in their song choices. How? Well, opening with the epic Three Days, for starters, which was utterly majestic and provided an early reminder that Dave Navarro is an outstanding guitarist, and the companion epic Then She Did… from Ritual de lo Habitual that was dropped in later, and appeared to be the point where Perry lost at least some of the crowd. Not that he appeared to care – he professed on stage to being well aware that most of the crowd were there purely for NIN, but there was more than enough of a reaction to suggest that a fair proportion of the crowd were also Jane’s fans.

Interestingly there was nothing from post-reformation album Strays, everything being from no later than about 1990, which when you think about it is a little strange. But the power of the band, and the quality of the performance, suggested this was no mere exercise in nostalgia – indeed by the time that the climax to an extraordinary Ted, Just Admit It stopped dead, it was clear that this was a celebration of a band who were never quite appreciated, perhaps, as much as they should have been. That point was then rammed home by raucous Stop! that seemed the perfect point to end it. And, frankly, this set would have been good enough as a headline slot, never mind an albeit lengthy support slot.

At that point I had to say that I was wondering how exactly Nine Inch Nails were going to top this, but any doubts were quickly dispelled by a brutal, breathless opening to the set that had our jaws on the floor. It wasn’t just the steady build and explosion of opener Somewhat Damaged, it was the savage Terrible Lie, and then the first big surprise of the night – a pounding Heresy that sounded absolutely immense. March of the Pigs followed straight on, with no chance to even draw breath, and by the end of it, everyone just had to stop for a moment – those four together were the most intense opening to a live set I’ve ever seen.

Nine Inch Nails Setlist:
Somewhat Damaged
Terrible Lie
Heresy
March of the Pigs
Piggy
Metal [Gary Numan]
The Becoming
I’m Afraid Of Americans [David Bowie]
Burn
Gave Up
La Mer
The Fragile
Gone, Still
The Way Out Is Through
Wish
Survivalism
Suck
The Day The World Went Away
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole

Encore:
Hurt

Not unsurprisingly the pace slackened somewhat after that – which included a mass-singalong to Piggy (and a video posted live by one of the band a few moments later to Twitter!), a couple of very unexpected covers, and an astounding run through the robot-festishism of The Becoming. The much tighter and powerful band – now stripped to a four piece, including the return of guitarist Robin Finck – even meant that Burn and Gave Up, which didn’t sound too great last time I saw NIN, sounded fantastic this time around.

The following suite of Fragile-era instrumentals and ballads didn’t seem to go down well with everyone, judging on comments I’ve seen on the ‘net since, but to me they were a marvellous showing of the more restrained side of NIN, and a reminder that they have always been capable of so much more than searing industrial rock, and have rarely been afraid to expand their horizons way beyond what their peers ever tried.

By this point, it was onto the final straight in a lengthy set, and it was time for some better-known favourites – although Closer was a surprising omission. To Trent’s credit, though, it appears that every single night of the tour has a different set, with an impressive variety of songs played, so at pretty much every gig people are either going to be disappointed or delighted with what they hear (and again, I’ve seen comments both ways already about last night – the almost total omission, two songs in total, of anything post-Fragile, which brooked no complaints from us).

Particular highlights from this last part – a titanic Wish disappointed no-one, I’m sure, and Suck nearly took the roof off, Head Like A Hole resulted in a mass singalong – and an even bigger moshpit – at which point the stage went black, and a moment or two’s breather was allowed for the band – before spotlights picked out Trent and his bandmates for a chilling Hurt. Lighters came out in the crowd, and the crowd as one pretty much sang every word note-perfect. In recent years I’d been thinking that I’d been getting a little tired of hearing this, but this elegant version did something to redeem it – and was a perfect end to an extraordinary gig.

Is this really it, then? Twenty years of NIN, and it looks to be so – Trent has recently announced “the last” gigs in North America, and while he said nothing of the sort last night, he was certainly saying his goodbyes at T In The Park over the weekend. All good things must come to an end, of course, and it would be difficult to say that he’s not ending the band (if he is) in some style. As one friend noted last night, Al Jourgensen should be watching and noting how to send off your band, after the shambles that was Ministry’s C U La Tour last year.

Either way, this is up there as among the top five gigs I’ve ever seen. And I have up to three more gigs in the next week, that could never be as good as this was.

Tuesday Ten: 078: 90s Industrial Metal

The 90s were a heyday for industrial metal – let’s be honest, few bands have been able to continue a high quality output of this style into this decade, and fewer more recent bands still have been able to keep the flame alive (with notable exceptions being the likes of Interlock and Cyanotic). To confirm what I mean by industrial metal – lots of industrial electronics, and lots of metal guitars and rhythms. Exactly how bands have interpreted this – and how they have balanced the two – is what makes this genre so fascinating.

Playlists:
 Spotify
 YouTube

Bands that I didn’t include in the final, umm, twelve (I couldn’t squeeze everyone in…): The Young Gods / KMFDM / Strapping Young Lad / Dope / Rammstein…Other suggestions welcome, of course, and the usual playlists cover as much as possible. So, here goes.


Prong
Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck
Cleansing

Let’s start with the monster that began this list in the first place. An, oddly enough, probably the most “metal” of all of the tracks here. Prong started out as a metal band, and gradually added more electronics and industrial textures as they went along, but Cleansing remains their brutal tour de force – the opening three tracks in particular are absolutely bulletproof, of which this longstanding metal dancefloor anthem is the third. The electronics are relegated to the background, but the mechanised rhythm is stripped to it’s bones and overlaid with an awesomely clean guitar riff. Add to that the roared chorus, and really, this track still deserves to be heard.


Misery Loves Co.
Kiss Your Boots
Misery Loves Co.

Starting out deceptively quietly – the first verse is all but whispered above a pulsing heartbeat, before Patrik Wiren bellows the title one more title and the hulking beat tramples through the speakers like a stampede of very large mammals. At least four remixes of this track exist (the Pitchshifter ones in particular are worth hearing), but for me it’s the original every time – this track sounds monstrous loud, and even better on a club PA.


Pitchshifter
Triad
Desensitized

Speaking of Pitchshifter, before they went a little more punk and, perhaps, a little more mainstream – even so, www.pitchshifter.com rightly remains a landmark album from that period – they were a grinding industrial metal band that had a lot of power, a lot of rage, and not a lot of metal-mainstream appeal. The first sign that this was changing was this brutal anti-fascist single that got them a lot of attention at the time (and indeed was the first song I heard by them, on John Peel’s late-evening show on Radio 1). I’ve seen them fifteen times since the mid-90s, and they’ve only failed to play it once or twice – pretty much the only song they play from this period any more, which is a crying shame as there a number of other killer tracks from this time. Still, altogether now: “Like Never/Like No…


Godflesh
Like Rats
Streetcleaner

I’m cheating a little here, seeing as this track was actually released on Godflesh’s debut album in mid-89 – however the band were such a titanic influence on the entire industrial metal genre that this deserves it’s place here. Slower and most likely heavier than just about anything else here, Like Rats grinds it’s way through nearly five minutes of densely-layered beats, riffs and a filthy, pulsing bassline that anchors the whole track. Justin Broadrick’s heavily-treated vocals – which sound truly fucking evil – just add to the oppressive atmosphere.


Ministry
Stigmata
The Land of Rape and Honey

Even earlier – from 1988 – but also here due to it’s enormous influence, is this, the opening track from the album where Ministry suddenly turned very heavy indeed and set the template for twenty years more of industrial metal. It’s distorted, heavy, and fucking ace. If, somehow, you’ve never really listened to Ministry, you could do worse than starting here.


Die Krupps
The Dawning Of Doom
I

Watch on YouTube

I think we have Metallica, of all people, to thank for the style of Die Krupps’ 90s output – in the 80s one of the early EBM acts, following the release of a tribute EP covering Metallica songs, suddenly covered their already muscular sound in guitars. Which is where I discovered them, and have been a fan ever since. This track – one of their more anthemic tracks, really – was also one of the (many) highlights of their live set when they played in Sheffield a year or two back.


Front Line Assembly
Millenium
Millenium

Another band who took on guitars to their mainly electronic sound were these guys, and the change caused something of a split with the fans at the time, although in hindsight Millenium remains one of FLA’s best albums (and the first two tracks – Vigilante and the title track – have been fixtures of live sets ever since they were released). The guitars didn’t remove anything from FLA’s power – in fact they provided something of a turbo boost, and again became immensely influential.


Fear Factory
Self Immolation (Vein Tap Mix)
Fear Is The Mindkiller

Nowhere was FLA’s influence (although from before Millenium!) more clear in the metal scene than with Fear Factory in the early 90s, after they hired Rhys Fulber from FLA to remix some of the tracks from their debut, death-metal-based Soul Of A New Machine, the result of which was this EP, a vicious, industrial-death-metal hybrid that sounded like no-one else at the time and sounded fucking immense. An extraordinarily brave experiment at the time, it remains an intriguing stepping stone towards the all-but-perfection of following album Demanufacture, and I’ll probably find people disagreeing with my choice of track from this EP (in all honesty I could have picked anything from it). I do wonder how much the work on this influenced Fulber in his work on Millenium, actually…


White Zombie
More Human Than Human
Astro Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head

While Rob Zombie achieved greater success with his solo work, he has never bettered his work with White Zombie, and in particular the sample-and-electronics-stuffed Astro Creep album. Every single gap is filled with whatever crass B-movie or pr0n samples Zombie could find, and they all add a twisted humour and sense of fun to many of the tracks. Of the, what, five, tracks that still fill metal dancefloors now, this is of course the best known, underpinned by the pulsing electronics and John Tempesta’s drum rhythms that sound like they are being beaten out with clubs.


Nine Inch Nails
Burn
Natural Born Killers OST

I could barely miss NiN from this list, really, seeing that they were probably the band that helped push the genre into the mainstream the most – even if Pretty Hate Machine is, in the main, electro as they come. It was with Broken that they really moved to being industrial metal – it’s seething fury overlaid with masses of guitars, which then got broken into jagged pieces for The Downward Spiral. Burn followed this as a seperate release on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, and as such other than being played live frequently it’s otherwise a little forgotten – which is a shame, as it’s probably the heaviest track NIN ever wrote. Again, best played very loud indeed for the right results…


Cubanate
It
Interference

Cubanate were one of the earlier industrial bands to include guitars from the outset, and over four albums seemed to get heavier and heavier with each release, despite seemingly using less in the way of guitars! Nowhere was this clearer than on this brutal opener to their final album, a drum’n’bass monster with a bassline that could take down buildings (and you more feel as opposed to hear). I rarely dare to risk this when DJing nowadays – one, not many people know it, and two, I don’t want to scare all the kiddies away!


Kill II This
Crucified
Deviate

The final band – and twelfth, I know – are Kill II This. They were one of a number of bands that roared into life in the late 90s in the UK who were not afraid at all of using industrial electronics to bolster a chunky metal sound. Sometimes a little contrived – and sometimes not all that great (most of the first and last albums) – the two albums in between were ace, and live they were even better. Their crowning moment was this, the gabba intro morphing into a fast-paced moshpit filler that was pretty much as close as anyone got to matching the heights Fear Factory reached few years before.