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Absolute Underground brings you the best in News & Reviews on Punk, Metal, and Hardcore. Our team covers events on art, tattoos, skate culture, horror & the macabre and much more... 

Friday, 10 August 2018 23:11

SPECTRES Under Artoffact Records & New Album coming early 2019!

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Vancouver-based post-punk crew SPECTRES inked a 5-album deal with Toronto-based Artoffact Records last week, and for those who have not heard their work, the entire catalogue of past albums will be reissued! Also included is a new album, which will see release early 2019!

Formed in Vancouver, BC in 2005 and commonly cited as kicking off the renewed interest in the post-punk sound in Canada, SPECTRES emerged from the DIY Punk underground and have released three spectacular records, toured both the United States and Europe, and have been praised for their genuinely original blend of post-punk and goth-rock.

Vocalist and founder Brian Gustavson wanted to blend the grassroots and independent ethic of anarcho-punk with the anomie and cold, modulated sounds of 1980’s Post Punk and death rock. Though the band’s output has matured with time to embrace a wider range of new-wave and shoegaze influences, their ethos remains rooted in anarcho punk. The blending of these influences allows for the curious juxtaposition of 80’s influenced pop sensibilities with lyrics that explore the alienation and cynicism of modern life and the search for hope in an increasingly terrifying world. One of the band’s core strengths is its sonic aesthetic, which ranges from brooding and confrontational dark punk to ethereal pop influenced dance anthems. SPECTRES’ live show harkens back to their punk origins bringing a direct and aggressive approach to their performances intended to convey a feeling of estrangement and urgency to the audience.

The band's three albums, Last Days, Nothing to Nowhere, and Utopia are all streaming on Bandcamp and will be reissued on CD on October 19th.

Saturday, 16 June 2018 14:57

Uriah Heep Live Review

Published in Underground News Written by

URIAH HEEP –

LIVE IN VANCOUVER B.C. AT THE VOGUE THEATRE APRIL 28, 2018

by William Liira

 

They played three shows in Vancouver in the same year (1972); they played a co-headlining concert with Def Leppard at the Pacific Colesium in 1983; they have a singer from Victoria B.C. who joined them right before they made history as the first hard rock band from the west to ever play in Russia in 1987; they’ve even been referenced on an episode of the Simpsons; but despite all of this, Uriah Heep seem to be a band that many people – including avid music fans of rock bands from that era – in metro Vancouver know little to nothing about. Could this have something to do with the fact that the last Uriah Heep concert to take place anywhere in British Columbia was on August 4, 2001 at a club in Burnaby that no longer exists? I have a very strong feeling that it does. As someone who discovered the band long after this Burnaby gig happened, I was struck with an unusually strong combination of surprise and excitement when they announced early this year that they would finally be returning to perform at the Vogue Theatre on April 28.

 

Almost as soon as that rush on anticipation had started to slowly die down, I was already starting to worry about how many people would actually buy tickets for this event. Coming onstage only to be meet by a sparse crowd would probably make them question if it was even worth their time and money to venture back to Vancouver. Having seen and heard several live recordings of these more recent incarnations of the band, I hated to think how a lukewarm reception would make this upcoming concert the first and last show I would get to see in this area. As me and a friend walked towards the Vogue on Saturday evening, we were both surprised to see a long line of ticket holders that started in front of the venue, extended around the corner onto Smithe street and finished not far from Seymour. I knew that all of those concerns were going to disappear about as quickly as our money would when we finally got inside and started buying beer and merchandise.

 

Before the long awaited return of Uriah Heep was to begin, local heavy metal group Uncle Sid was scheduled to kick off the night. I was completely unfamiliar with them, but I was reassured by my brother in law that they would be worth watching. He was absolutely right. It only took about a song or two for me to realize that I would now have to become a fan. For thirty minutes, all four members of the band gave it their all and seemed to be having the same effect on many of those around us. I also have to give front woman Emerald Green extra credit for her strong and energetic stage presence. This is something that can make or break a performance for any band, especially an opener. In order to really slam your sound down into the eardrums and memories of the audience, you need to have a strong lead to keep their attention and make sure that indifference doesn’t begin to set in. Uncle Sid opened up a very loud and effective line of communication that did three things; 1) They gave those who were already fans even more reason to keep supporting them (2) They made everyone else who hadn’t heard them before realize they had been missing out and needed to start doing the same, and (3) insured that the overall level of excitement would remain high after they left the stage. At this point, it was up to Uriah Heep to match and exceed it to prove that they were still influential rock legends who deserved respect.

 

After making our way onto the floor and up to the front, we settled in at the right hand side of the stage. We were doing our part by maintaining all of that anticipation that had been building up for seventeen years. As the lights went down and the members began to appear, I was glad that I had decided not to go online and look up their setlist from previous shows on this tour. I was still guessing about how they would start things off, and as they began playing the intro to “Gypsy,” a huge grin grew on my face. This powerful epic rocker was originally the first track on their debut album, and here they are once again using this personal favourite of mine to introduce their own special brand of rock to anyone listening. They kept it going with more classic numbers like “Look At Yourself” and “Shadows Of Grief,” an excellent deep album track and a nice surprise that seemed to suggest that the setlist wouldn’t be too predictable. They had just absolutely crushed it with three classics, and as front man Bernie Shaw finally took the opportunity to have a brief chat with us, he acknowledged how long it had been and how many songs they were going to play to make up for it. They kept their classic 70’s sounds coming with “Stealin,” a popular single that had everybody breaking out into an enthusiastic sing along. After that, the band took another quick breather as Shaw told us what I had suspected would happen – they would be playing a lot of those 70’s classics, but they were also going to play a few new songs to give us an idea of what Uriah Heep was all about in 2018. “The Law” from their most recent album “Outsider,” made it clear that they were still all about making good new music and it fit right in with the more familiar repertoire.

 

The crowd was loving the performance, and that love was obviously having an effect on the band. Their execution of every song was flawless and brimming with the sort of energy that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a band that plays as many shows as they do. They continued to show their technical prowess and musical depth with “Sunrise.” Then it was time for a lesson in music history. Mr Shaw introduced the subject of how music started to change in 1972. Bands like Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson began to experiment musically and prog rock was born. The length of tracks doubled, and certain substances that may or may not have aided in the process were now going to become legal in Canada. He then dedicated their next number “The Magicians Birthday” to an audience member who was celebrating her birthday, and told us to get comfortable because “this next song will take a while.” They had no problem demonstrating why their own contribution to that musically adventurous movement known as prog should be recognized as much as those three aforementioned bands. There are still people who are eager to attach a lot of negativity towards this kind of music. Based on what I saw, none of those people were in attendance. Longer ten minute songs were more than welcomed by the crowd.

 

Shortly after they finished that long form lesson, they calmly started into “The Wizard.” It was this very track that introduced me to Uriah Heep and made me realize there was something unique about this band. Even though guitarist Mick Box is the only member who was involved in the original writing and recording of this song, the sonic potion that they produced was still as potent when put in the hands of the new Uriah Heep in 2018. Now it was time for two more diversions into the more recent back catalogue. “One Minute,” another track from “Outsider” also sounded great alongside the classics. “Between Two Worlds,” from their 1998 album Sonic Origami, was as Shaw put it, “dusted off from the archives and played around with in soundcheck” before they decided to play it. I admire their decision to take chances and pick songs from an era that many people may not be as familiar with. They played it every bit as well as all the other songs and gave everybody more reason to go back and take another look at what they did during that decade.

 

And then it was time to shoot right back to the past and finish off the night with three fan favourites. “July Morning” is an iconic number that become incredibly popular in countries that were at one time closed off from the west. Not even the iron curtain could hold back the power of “July Morning” and it somehow managed to slip through and find its way to the ears of the Russian people in the 80’s. They didn’t care that this song was first written in the early 70’s; good music is timeless. As for the rest of us at the Vogue Theatre - Uriah Heep continued to remind us why we should keep believing this too as they performed it with as much passion as they always have. “Lady In Black” was our final opportunity to sing along to one of their most loved ballads, and we didn’t let them down. Before the final song, Shaw took a bit of time to give a shout out to all the fans from Victoria and said that BC Ferries had to add an extra sailing to accommodate all the fans who came over from the island. He also confirmed that they had finished recording their new album “Living The Dream” and that it would be released in September. Last but not least was “Easy Livin,” which I consider to be their “Smoke On The Water.” They’ll always play it live, and it’s always the one song that the local FM stations will play when they actually get around to playing Uriah Heep, which is not very often. After 97 minutes, they left the stage having proven that they were still worthy of being held in such high regard. They took a chance and came back to Vancouver; all the Heep fans came out in good numbers and showed there are still enough of us out here who love their music. Now I can only hope that’ll give them enough reason to come back for at least one more show.

 

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