Saturday, 26 May 2012

Beats: Campus – Empathy review

Coming from Belgium where they have quite quickly smashed the music scene to hell, Campus are an energetic post-hardcore band who just want to touch people’s souls.

They have certainly touched mine with this E.P.

The E.P. opens up with the title track, Empathy and a wonderfully technical riff that makes your heart beat. The vocals are aggressive and heartfelt and the drums are wonderfully heavy. As the song continues it develops into a huge atmospheric explosion with awesome clean vocals along with the aggressiveness and the breakdown at the end that I was waiting for during the whole song... I just knew it was coming, I wanted it to come and when it finally did it was satisfying.

As this 4-track masterpiece of an E.P. continues, we hear more of the same... blinding riffs, huge beats and atmosphere – Definitely not a bad thing.

As I think about it and listen more, I’ve come to realise that the clean vocals aren’t dissimilar from a lot of late nu-metal which is something I definitely dig.

I just can’t get enough of this E.P. My problem is that it really is not long enough. There needs to be more than 4 tracks and it’s all over too quickly and quite suddenly too. There’s no kind of wind down which is something I definitely dislike in this kind of music.

All in all, if you like post-hardcore this is an E.P. you should buy without a doubt.

Check out the video for Empathy below:

Campus - Empathy is out on 28th May on Small Town records, on both C.D. & as a digital download. Order it here:

You can like Campus on facebook here:
You can follow Campus on twitter here:


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Beats: Pinkunoizu – Free Time Review

Image taken from

Pinkunoizu. It means ‘Pink Noise’ in Japanese. This band isn’t Japanese though. They’re Danish. And live in Berlin.

The press release says “they play an exotic mixture of lo-fi, high-life, nu-folklore, ’60s Asian pop and post-apocalyptic future rock” and I don’t know what any of that means.

All I know is that Pinkunoizu are weird as shit.

I first heard the song Parabolic Delusions (video below) and was instantly hooked. It’s catchy. I mean really catchy. I’d describe it as almost electronically militant. I don’t even know what I’m talking about. The chorus is what really gets you wanting to listen to this song on loop 50 million times – “Like an endless loop of American troops, I will come for you; I will come for you” – I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why I like it so much. Maybe because it’s so utterly bizarre.

I had to hear the album. I don’t think I would have survived without hearing more weirdness.

The album starts off with Time is Like A Melody which has a nice folky feel to the beginning before it goes into more of this weird ambient electronic craziness. The folkyness stays which is quite welcome. It’s like a nice background to the weird electronic stuff that’s going on.

Next up is Myriad Pyramid. Easily one of the weirdest songs on the album. Starts off with a really eerie feel of like trumpets and some static throat singing or groaning. I don’t know what it is. Then heads off into more of that electronic synth with a particularly catchy beat and vocal style.

Cyborg Manifesto brings more folk with the occasional thing that I can only call a ‘Hawaiian tinge’ which is bizarre and it works with the echoed vocals. This one isn’t so electronic and it doesn’t need to be.

Really, the rest of the album is more of the same until you get to the final song on the album. Somber Ground. It is somber. The song starts off with light drums, guitars and what sounds like a monk. Most would go so far as to call it depressing but I wouldn’t. I think it’s quite uplifting in a Solitude Aeturnus kind of way. But no, it doesn’t stay like that the whole way through the 8 minute track... yet again it picks up into this mad electronic craziness... static noise. Distorted sound. It’s great.

How do I conclude this review?

I do not understand what kinds of twisted people could come up with an album so utterly bizarre. I absolutely love it.

Video for Parabolic Delusions:

 I'd highly recommend purchasing this album or at the very least having a listen here:

The album is out now on Full Time Hobby Records

You can like Pinkunoizu on Facebook here:
You can follow Pinkunoizu on Twitter here:


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Booze: An open letter to Kevin Black (No cocks)

Well it's not really a letter. More of an open apology for the Two Cocks jokes.

Last week, Kevin Black posted a video review of Two Cocks Brewery 1634 Puritan Stout. It was a great review, in all fairness.

A load of us in the Beer Drinkers United Facebook Group thought Two Cocks was hilarious.

Stu & Dave started it.

The jokes came flooding in...

"I wonder if you could age two cocks or are they supposed to be had fresh?"

"Have you tried chugging two cocks?"

"Don't you swallow two cocks?"

"He got good head from two cocks"

"Have you tried two cocks? Kevin Black seems to really enjoy the taste of two cocks!"

"Surprised he didn't review that beer with some English Port Faggots"

"He could've had two cocks and a couple of faggots"

Poor Kevin got a bit annoyed. I think the tipping point was the below tweet

I've never had TWO COCKS before but I do have respect for their beers and the people behind the brewery. It was all a bit of a laugh because of the name of the brewery. It was not a mockery of Kevin or the brewery and I want to make that clear.

I mean, this is the internet. What do you expect?

I'll admit, though; it did get a bit out of hand after a while. Some people are still laughing about two cocks but these people are immature. Two cocks isn't a laughing matter. How would you feel if someone was mocking you because you enjoyed two cocks? It's really not fair.

So really, I just want to apologise to Kevin Black and Two Cocks Brewery on behalf of beer drinkers united in case we have offended.

As I said to Kevin, it was only a joke. Get TWO COCKS down your throat and calm down.

You can watch 2 Cocks, 1 Glass featuring Kevin Black below.

Sorry mate. Two cocks is just too easy to joke about.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Booze: Minimum Pricing – What will it achieve?

Now, this may come as a shock to you but I like a few drinks every once in a while. Ok, more than a few and more nights than not.

When I first read that the government were considering minimum pricing per unit on alcohol I was outraged. Then they decided that it was definitely occurring. I was angry for a few reasons:

Firstly, I like alcohol a lot.

Secondly, the beer duty escalator pushes the price of beer up enough as it is.

And thirdly, this gives the government yet another way to sting us each budget.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s not actually a tax and apparently doesn’t benefit the government but minimum pricing is set at 40p (50p in Scotland soon) a unit now but what about next year when they decide that 40p isn’t enough and sticks another 3p on, then another 2p the next year and so on whilst at the same time raising beer duty, yet again.

What I don’t get and I’ve seen that others don’t get either (including a beer retailer) is who actually gets the money from minimum pricing. Where does it all start? At the brewer? The distributor? Or the retailer? It turns out that the government (as with a lot of things) hadn’t made this clear which causes a problem for independent retailers like good ol’ Zak because he doesn’t have the time to spend searching for the answers he needs in the dark corners of the internet. Retailers need to be actively told things like this. It turns out that the retailer gets this extra money. Good for them!

So this morning I read a blog post by Brewdog saying that they back minimum pricing because it will force people to drink better beer as there won’t be so much of a price difference between them.

Sorry, Mr Watt, but no it won’t. People will drink what they want, regardless of price. If people like drinking Carlsberg, they’ll drink Carlsberg. I highly doubt the average pisshead cares about the quality of beer. They’re not going to drink your beer just because it’s the same price. The average pisshead doesn’t spend ages deliberating what beer to get, they just want to drink. For me, as someone who drinks both awesome craft beer and macrolager, if a crate of 15 cans of Brewdog Punk IPA was the same price as a crate of Carling, I’d go for Punk every time but as it stands; if I want a heavy night I simply can’t afford to shell out that much money. I’m not rich, not by a long shot.

Then there’s the government, they’re saying that it will stop people drinking so much. Maybe a little bit but I don’t think it’ll really make that much of a difference because I don’t think most people will really notice the change in price. The only price rise I’ve noticed in the last few months is that two crates of 15 Carling in Sainsbury’s has gone from £16 to £19. What’s £3? Probably what I’d spend on a couple of double cheeseburgers on my way home from the supermarket. Most people literally will not notice. Probably because they’re too pissed.

I think the main reason people are buying from supermarkets instead of going to the pub is because you can’t smoke in pubs. That’s my big problem in the winter. I enjoy smoking but I don’t enjoy going outside to smoke. It’s cold out there, man. I’d rather be in the warmth of a house and freely drink and smoke to my heart’s content.

Basically, I disagree with minimum pricing. It won’t really make a noticeable difference to people’s drinking habits. It’s not really going to achieve much because people will always be able to somehow find the cash to drink if they want to drink.

What do you all think? Agree? Disagree?


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Booze: Camden Town USA Hells Unfiltered Lager

Brewery: Camden Town
Beer: USA Hells
Style: Unfiltered Lager
ABV: 4.6%

I was very excited to drink this beer after making it a ritual thing to drink the original Camden Town Hells every time I go to London. A craft beer bar will always have it on. That wonderfully refreshing biscuity, lemony and grassy lager… perfect for summer drinking. I love it.

I bought this because, well, it’s that awesome beer but with American Hops instead of German and I don’t recall ever having an unfiltered lager before.

It pours a hazy lemony straw colour with a head that don’t quit.

Aroma is sweet, malty, fruity and grassy – It reminds me of summer days gone.

Flavours are everything you’d expect from American hops… you’ve still got the buscuity malt backbone but instead of the lemony flavours you’re getting that piney hoptastic smack of C-hops; Mango, pineapple and lime… yet still with that grassy finish.

Mouthfeel, being unfiltered I found got a little bit dry as it warmed up but this is the sort of beer you wouldn’t want to drink slowly. You just want to gulp a pint or three.

This is such a fine example of a lager and I shall most definitely be ordering more in the near future!

Follow Camden Town Brewery on twitter: 
Like Camden Town Brewery on facebook:

More beer soon…


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Beats: TesseracT – Perspective Review

For those of you who know TesseracT, they really need no introduction but for those of you who don’t, here’s a brief outline:

TesseracT are a five-piece progressive technical metal band who formed in 2007 and appeared to burst onto the scene very quickly, quite rightly receiving props from peers such as Textures and Meshuggah, as well as press alike (Metal Hammer, Rock Sound, Scuzz). Through, two EPs, an album and touring with artists such as the great Devin Townsend they have gained an international fanbase.

Now, onto perspective.

Perspective is somewhat different to TesseracT’s other stuff as it is acoustic but you can tell that it has TesseracT written all over it.

They have taken 3 of their previous songs – Perfection, April and Origin – and turned them into acoustic songs as well as a cover of Jeff Buckley’s Dream Brother and wait for it… Eden 2.0!

And just wow. They’ve done a brilliant job. They are all such talented musicians but I’ve been particularly impressed with Elliott Coleman’s vocal talent on this EP.

I am already a massive fan of TesseracT but this has really done it for me. Each song is wonderfully executed, full of emotion and most of all it has a pulse – something I feel that a lot of bands who try something different lack – each time I listen, I find myself shouting “WHY ARE THERE NOT MORE SONGS?”. It’s simply incredible.

But – now this is not a criticism to TesseracT – when a band does an acoustic album like this that is far different from their usual music I always have this general thought in my head:

“Will fans of TesseracT genuinely like this EP because it’s a brilliant piece of work or will they go mad for it because of the fact that it is TesseracT, regardless of whether or not they’re into acoustic music?”

Apologies but I felt I had to raise that point. I’m sure it doesn’t really matter but this is all about my thoughts and opinions, right?

All in all, it’s bloody brilliant. TesseracT have done a wonderful job at taking their own songs and turning them into something completely different yet remaining consistently awesome.

TesseracTPerspective is out this Friday, 18th of May through Century Media Records and is a digital only release.

It will be available on iTunes.

Tesseract online:

Go, buy it!


Monday, 14 May 2012

Beats: Hour of 13 – 333 Review

Hour of 13 have been hiding in the dark corners of the Doom metal underground for about 6 years now. It’s just two guys; Chad Davis plays all of the instruments and does most of the song writing whilst Phil Swanson provides vocals.

I hadn’t heard anything by these guys before which I am angry at myself for as I bloody love Doom Metal. I get excited whenever I read the word “Doom” so I had a feeling this was going to be good.

As someone who didn’t really know what to expect (Other than doominess), I was impressed.

As soon as Deny The Cross comes on you get that Sabbath-esque doominess which is never a bad thing. It’s groovy, heavy and lyrically awesome. This continues through The Burning with the hard-hitting groovy riffs, and intensely doomy vocals.

Then we get to Rites Of Samhain which sees a slight change from straight up doom to doom tinged with a slight NWOBHM feel in the vein of Iron Maiden & Judas Priest with some haunting echoes and an amazing guitar solo. This is easily my favourite song on the album and definitely the most catchy. I just wish it was longer.

The album continues with full on doominess which is awesome…  it’s rifftastic, groovy, sturdy vocals, of course has vocals that focus on the occult which Is what you’d expect from something of this ilk and has that kind of raw production which really suits the genre well.

All in all, this is a must have doomilicious album for anyone who likes music such as Black Sabbath, Cathedral, Candlemass, St Vitus. Etc.

Like them on facebook here:

Hour of 13 - 333 is out on Earache Records on 28th May 2012 and will be available from all self-respecting music retailers.

Stay doomy!


Friday, 11 May 2012

Booze: A Love Letter from Norfolk...

A few days ago, Boak & Bailey posted a blog entitled “Four Beers, Three Write-offs” in which they said that a friend had recently returned from their holiday in Norfolk and with them they brought back some bottle conditioned real ales from Norfolk.
Three of these beers were “absolutely foul” and one was “just about drinkable”.

“One was just about drinkable — an unassertive yeast and some pithy hops made it bland but faintly aromatic — but more by luck than intent, we suspect. Another was an accidental, gushing lambic; yet another smelled like pickled lemons rotting in a drainage ditch and tasted like unfermented wort; the fourth had the aroma of blue cheese and tasted like alcohol-free wheat beer — chewy, grainy water.”

They described these beers as “These were exploitative, gift-shop, tourist-trap beers.”

Boak and Bailey did not mention the names of beers so one commenter raised the question “Why don’t you name them?” and the reasoning behind not naming them was fair, the owners of these small micro-breweries have a hell of a lot more at stake than a blogger does, they don’t want to do any harm.

The way I see it is, you can say you’ve had some bad beers but I think before publicly naming and shaming these beers you should at least email these brewers and give them some feedback. If they don’t reply after say, a week, then I think it would be fair to warn the good people of the internet. Brewers should welcome feedback, not ignore it, regardless of whether they disagree. It’s about customer service.

An example of great customer service that I’ve experience from a brewery: Last summer I had waited ages to get a bottle of Jiggle Juice from the now closed NorthcoteBrewery in Norwich. I had heard such good things about it so I was excited. I got home with the bottle, opened it, poured it into my glass and it just wasn’t right. It smelled bad. Tasted even worse, it was sour, almost medicinal so I sent them a DM on twitter and the lovely Jen replied saying “Wow, that sounds like it was oxidised... really sorry. Give me your address and I will send you another bottle”. And so she did along with a bottle of Sunshine Jiggle as an apology. Because their brewery was only a 5 minute drive from my house, Jen personally dropped them off at my door. That’s customer service. That’s a brewer who really cares.

Ok, so maybe you’re not going to get treated as well as that by some breweries but you need to at least give them feedback and quite frankly, if they don’t even reply that’s a bit bitchy.

We’ve all had bad experiences with beer, be it bottle, cask, can or keg and the problem is that most of us don’t bother giving feedback.

Now, being from Norfolk I was particularly interested to know what the beers Boak & Bailey had so they sent me a DM on twitter with the names of these beers. I’d never had any of them bottled before but I had two of them on cask this previous weekend at Dragon Hall Beer Festival and none of them were as described. Completely different dispense method. Maybe it’s their bottling that’s not up to scratch but the thing is, as Boak and Bailey points out: Are they delusional and think that they’re genuinely sending out really good beer or are they bottling it knowing that it’s not working for them and sending it out anyway?

Now obviously, no brewer is going to give the latter answer so that’s something we have to answer for ourselves. Which is impossible really. All we can do after an experience like that is avoid beers from that particular brewery just in case all of their beers are in the same terrible condition or just terrible.

Now the thing that made me really angry was one commenter on the post who claimed that Boak & Bailey were attacking Norfolk beers and telling people not to drink Norfolk beers because they’re all crap. This commenter is an absolute fool. This spawned a rather wonderful blogpost from Jen from Northcote brewery saying how wonderful Norfolk beer is and there are some cracking ones on there.

Generally, living in Norfolk, I don’t really drink many bottled conditioned ales from Norfolk as the vast majority of them are available on cask in The Fat Cat at some point in time but I feel that I need to drink more so I can get more of an opinion.

Right, so the conversations continued all throughout the day and night on twitter when it got to a point where a local brewery jumped in:

“Really interesting comments about the merits and demerits of Norfolk bottle-cond beer”


When I expressed my anger at this they said they phrased it poorly to be within the character limit. I think they could’ve left out Norfolk as although these particular beers were from Norfolk, it WAS NOT AN ATTACK ON NORFOLK BEERS! If a friend had come back from Yorkshire or some other place and brought back some truly terrible beers we’d still be seeing this kind of blog post.

The same brewery also asked another local brewery who owns a shop in Norwich “So what % of beers from your shop would you avoid?” now this pissed me off. I called this unfair. I don’t think you should publicly ask that kind of question. I don’t want to know that there are X amounts of beers in this guy’s shop that he wouldn’t drink personally. He replied saying there are a lot he has bought for himself that he has poured down the drain so I asked “Is that because you don’t like them or because they are genuinely bad beers?” and I never got a straight answer. The best I got was “Some people like them”. Fair enough, you’re going to sell beers that you don’t like but if you know that there are beers in your shop that are genuinely bad beers WHY THE F**K ARE YOU SELLING THEM?

That was the tipping point for me. It pissed me off.

What’s your take on all of this?

Now, as for bottle conditioned Norfolk beers I like and you should definitely seek out:

Panther Black Panther – A nice dark, chocolatey stout with hints of vanilla. Very sweet and roasty.

Tipples Hanged Monk – A Traditional Mild. Quite nutty and roasty with a hint of chocolate.

Northcote El Salvador – Coffee IPA. Coffee bitterness, with some citrusy and roastyness. (There are barely any bottles of this in existence so if you want one get in contact and I will send one to you)

This has been a very long post. I was quite angry last night. I shouldn’t get so angry over beer conversations but I can’t help it.

It all boils down to two things:

Boak & Bailey’s post WAS NOT an attack on Norfolk Breweries.


You should ALWAYS give breweries feedback if their beers are really that bad. If they don’t bother replying, openly tell the world and maybe they’ll notice and get back to you.

1,200 words and it’s all out of my system.



Thursday, 10 May 2012

Booze: Dragon Hall Beer Festival – The Aftermath

So, the past weekend saw Dragon Hall Beer Festival 2 and it was a massive success. We had pretty much the whole crew of volunteers back plus some new additions which was great. We’re a great team.

We had about 30 cask ales and bottled beers from Norfolk as well as 4 kegged beers and 9 bottled beers from Ghent in Belgium.

Basically, if you missed it you’re an absolute fool.

My two favourite beers of the weekend:

Van Steenberge Gulden Draak 9000 Quadrupel – A wonderful example of a quadruple. 10.5% but definitely doesn’t taste it. Got nice caramel and malty aromas. Flavours are caramel, bananas & custard, light yeast and spice.

Norwich Bear Platinum Blonde – A premium bitter. Pours a lovely golden orange colour with a bubbly off-white head. Biscuity malt aromas with some citrus. Tastes citrusy (possibly lemon) with that same buscuity malt flavour. Definitely my favourite cask ale of the weekend. See Dawn’s impression of me here:!/NateDawg27/status/199945284355244032/photo/1/large

Ole Slewfoot Dragon Saison – A cask saison brewed in Norfolk. Smells and tastes pretty much the same. Like diluted lemon juice with a spicy, yeasty finish. Great stuff.

The food was great too – all provided by The Belgian Monk. I find myself craving more bitterballen. They’re amazing little pieces of lamb in a nice creamy breadcrumb coating. And wild boar sausages, why do we not see more of these around?

Sadly I cannot personally comment on the music as I was on the Belgian bar downstairs but read the following quote from Mr Jennings (Sadly we don’t know who this is, which doesn’t help):

“A well rounded musical act played on the Sunday afternoon session, performing their own brand of traditional folk music. Unfortunately the two acoustic guitars where somewhat drowned out by the violin and accordion but the latter two instruments provided vibrant, haunting melodies that wouldn’t have been out of place in a royal medieval court. Their presence was warmly welcomed and was a great addition to the steady flow of fine ales.”

All in all, it was a great weekend. I met some great new people and saw some awesome old friends. I’m really looking forward to next year!

The next big beer event in Norwich is City of Ale which I will be blogging about soon...


Friday, 4 May 2012

The Session no.63: May the fourth be with you!

The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community which was started by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. On the first Friday of each month, all participating bloggers write about a predetermined topic. Each month a different blog is chosen to host The Session, choose the topic, and post a roundup of all the responses received. For more info on The Session, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s nice archive page.


This month’s The Session is hosted by Pete Brown and it’s about The Beer Moment. What does it mean to you?




Fifteen minutes until the end of work. I have formulated a plan with a few friends to meet at a pub. The clock ticks down. Awesome. It’s quarter past five. I roll a cigarette for my walk to the pub. I turn my computer off. I walk. My friends may or may not already be there, it doesn’t matter; they’ll show up eventually. I order my pint of beer. Any beer will do. It doesn’t matter. It’s that first sip. That refreshing feeling after a day at the office.

That is
The Beer Moment.


It’s that first pint after you finish work. It’s any beer. It’s just a beer. It’s the happiness of just taking that first sip because YOU DESERVE IT!


That is what The Beer Moment means to me.



Thursday, 3 May 2012

Beats: Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Lost in the New Real

“Of course… Mr. L Wake up slowly. But don’t move yet. You will need time to recover. And welcome back. My name is Voight-Kampff: I am your hardheaded shrink. My genetic team handled the damaged DNA in your head. You are as good as new (maintenance keeps quality.) I will help you adjust to all things changed. Keep you up to date. Now tell me… the last thing you remember”

Mr L. was cryofrozen at the point of clinical death from a terminal illness. He remembers dying and not much else. He is going to need some help adjusting. Luckily he has Voight-Kampff to help!

Whenever I hear the name Arjen Anthony Lucassen, I get excited being the lover of progressive metal that I am, and quite rightly so too. The man is an absolute legend of progressive metal. There’s one thing you can guarantee when this man makes music – It’s going to be more of the same yet somewhat different. Whether it’s Ayreon, Star One or him going solo, it’s impossible to not get excited about a new album.

This one is different though. It’s different in the sense that he does it all himself. Usually Arjen will draft in guest vocalists to play the other characters on his albums and usually he will have a band but not this time. Aside from his psychotherapist Voight-Kampff (Voiced by Rutger Hauer) and a few other instruments and special parts, he does it all himself.

Lost in the New Real is an epic double disk album about a new world, many years from now. Disc one contains the actual story whereas disc two is a mix of songs that didn’t make disc one along with some covers.

The whole album carries a kind of 60s & 70s style of music with his vocals being heavily influenced by the likes of The Beatles and David Bowie which is especially evident in the second track, Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin.

The album is great fun but there are serious tones running through it, especially in tracks like Parental Procreation Unit which tackles the issue of over population and the fact that in this future world you need a license in order to have children; along with E-Police which explains that you can no longer use the internet for illegal activity as the E-Police are watching every move you make, 24 hours a day and Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home which essentially is a cheerful song about suicide. Yeah, you read that correctly. Dr. Slumber’s Eternity Home is a place where you can happily go to die in a humane way.

I think my favourite track on the album, however, is Where Pigs Fly where he is singing about a lot of things that have happened in the world… in reverse. It’s utterly bizarre but genius.

All in all, this is a bloody amazing album that I’m pretty confident any rock music fan would like regardless of your specific preference. It has melody, riffs, a storyline, amazing vocal talent, it’s utterly bizarre, it’s heavy… it has so much to it that I could go on for days.

I won’t however. I will just leave you with my favourite verse from the album:

“Rocky had no sequels
Arnold never came back
E.T. dialled the wrong number
And Dolly had no rack.”

The album is out NOW on Inside OutMusic, you can purchase the various versions here:

You can watch the music video for E-Police here:

Like Arjen/Ayreon on Facebook here:

Follow Arjen on Twitter here:

Check out his various projects and bio here: