16 10 2014





As one of HP’s resident horror fiends, it will probably come as no surprise for you all to learn that for the last few weeks I’ve been glued to Cilla, a biographical mini-series about the life of Liverpool’s own mistress of the dark. Joking aside, this story about Ms Black’s life isn’t nearly as diabolically bad as I had assumed and truth be told, I’m actually enjoying this swingin’ ’60s set tale.

Starring Sheridan Smith as the titular singer (and, lest we forget, host of Blind Date) the actress plays the role with just the right amount of sweetness and innocence. Essentially a love story between Cilla and her late husband Bobby Willis,the mini-series revolves around the rock ‘n’ roll scene in Liverpool, Black’s quest for chart supremacy and her boyfriend’s battles with his family for having the cheek to go out with a catholic girl (the horror…!). Both charming and slightly cheesy, the show is great fun for a music historian like myself and so far I’ve enjoyed spotting the likes of John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Martin and more.

Smith also performs all of the songs live herself and has a fine set of pipes and while admittedly the strong Scouse accents occasionally do my head in, Cilla is a great piece of Monday night fluff and by the time the show ends you feel as warm and fuzzy as the residents of Sesame Street.

Recently, I’ve also been enjoying horror/mystery show Resurrection. Airing on Watch, a channel which ironically I rarely ever look at, this American drama is based on the book The Returned by James Mott and, as you might expect from the title, is about people coming back from the dead. Now first off-I was extremely dubious about this Brad Pitt-produced show. Mostly because I’ve been reading a comic by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton called Revival which has the same/similar concept and pre-dates both the novel and programme….

However, casting my reservations about any potential rip-off/imitation aside, I watched the first episode and have been hooked since. What’s most interesting about the show is the reactions of the characters whose loved ones have been resurrected. As they’ve returned exactly as they were before they croaked and don’t look like traditional zombies/Mickey Rourke, it’s thrown people off a little and the residents of Arcadia, Missouri are generally split into two camps. Those who welcome the deceased back with open arms and see it as an opportunity to make up for lost time and those that are completely freaked out and see these creatures as the work of the evil one from down below (that would be Satan rather than Nick Cave, obviously….).

I’m only three episodes in so it’s early days, but I’ve loved by the twists and turns thus far and the presence of Samaire Armstrong certainly spices up proceedings. As for the reason why the dead are coming back to life? Personally I’m going to avoid the tried and tested “aliens are doing it” route and blame the government instead. It’s got to be either those bullshit politicians or Miley Cyrus. One of the other, like.

Staying with all things unnerving and sinister-talent show The X Factor is back on our screens for another serving of tears and tantrums (*bah-dum-tish*). While I’m aware that the programme has a veritable shed-load of detractors, personally I’m a pop culture fan and once you realise that it’s a scripted, pre-determined entity where the producers attempt to force on you who they love/loathe (yes, just like professional wrestling) I find it both enlightening (when the fuck did dungarees become cool?) and enjoyable (I’m convinced they’ve replaced Louis Walsh with one of those dolls that only speaks when you pull its string). So there.

However, I will admit that the ever-plunging shirts of the button-phobic Simon Cowell is a sight that’s far too frightening for this horror fan…


Had To Be Done….

13 10 2014

Though it pained me to pierce the shrink wrap of this amazing new box-set of Synder and Capullo’s super-creepy ‘Death Of The Family’  story (which came with a mask of the Joker’s ripped off face), I’m kinda glad  I did. *Shhhh* don’t tell anyone….

2014-10-13 12.58.38

Oh and since I’m in a Batman mood-here I am with Bats artist and all-round ledge-bag Greg Capullo.



8 10 2014





It’s been a soul-destroying few years for blackened death metal bruisers Belphegor. In late 2011, their leader Helmuth contracted a life-threatening lung infection and endured multiple surgeries which put the band’s touring and recording plans in limbo. After a gruelling period of extensive rehab though, he returns this month with tenth LP Conjuring The Dead and the opus proves that what doesn’t kill you, really does make you stronger. Recorded in Florida, the influence of the Sunshine State’s death metal scene can be heard on the rabid Gasmask Terror and the intense, incendiary Legions Of Destruction (which boasts Deicide’s Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Attila on guest vocals) and it’s a faster, more extreme offering compared to 2011’s Blood Magick Necromance. Bursting with blood-curdling shrieks, blasphemous lyrics, shredding guitar solos, strange chants and tritone intervals, Belphegor’s tenth opus sees the Austrian’s stitch together elements of both the European and American metal scenes, creating a new, exciting monster. Though the drum sound does let the record down in places (In Death) and there’s some filler (The Eyes), overall the band have came back fighting on Conjuring The Dead and it’s a ferocious return to form. [7]


Masters Of The Universe Comic Cover Competition

6 10 2014

A few weeks ago my nephew and niece entered a Masters Of the Universe competition. The brief was to design a comic cover using old Masters action figures (or “the He-Men” as us McFee’s call them) and they (with a little help from my brother and me) came up with this. Cool, eh?



2 10 2014

I’ve always had a strained relationship with Queens Of The Stone Age. I suppose it stretches back to around this time ten years ago. At that point in my life I had been a fan of head Queen Josh Homme for around a decade. Myself and my brother adored his first (and best) band Kyuss after discovering them via 2fm’s infamous Metal Show. When the band imploded, I was one of “those people” who hastily went out and ordered QOTSA’s split release and from there, although I was initially a little wigged out at Homme’s high-pitched vocals, I loved those first two albums. In fact I was such a fan that I even knew how to correctly pronounce his surname (“Mommy” only with an “H” instead of “M,” kids).

Like most things in life though, my affection for the band waned after a time. Yes, that show with Homme, Oliveri, Langegan et al in Dublin’s Ambassador (circa 2002) was incredible. After that though, things seemed to sour. Mark Lanegan left, Nick was fired and a project that only ever intended to release three records (according to Homme himself) began to tread water and churn out sub-standard shite.

I kept the faith though. At least initially. I’ll admit being offered interviews with Homme (during the middle part of the 2000’s) only for them to be switched to one of his lieutenants at the eleventh hour did grate. Especially when during one of those phoners I was told “Josh has lost his voice and can’t speak to you,” but I could clearly hear him loudly talking for 30minutes in the background while his guitarist Troy whispered two and three word answers to my questions. At that point, our plan was to make Queens and the then burgeoning stoner rock scene as a whole the cover of Alternative Ulster. Needless to say, it didn’t pan out and some nonsense on (the not very alternative) U2 went on page one instead. But that’s a tale for another time.

Over the intervening years, more average albums were inflicted on me and I witnessed a slew of less than stellar QOTSA shows. Then Homme decided to sue his old Kyuss band-mates for playing gigs as Kyuss Lives. An unforgivable act, in my book. Especially as there were plenty of us who never got to see John Garcia, Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork all onstage together the first time around.

Ever the optimist though, I did have a thimble’s-worth of hope that Homme could reach past heights again. That too drained away after watching QOTSA bore the assembled masses in Belfast’s Odyssey last year though. As I stood waiting for my friend, I saw a gentleman clad in cream chinos, a tucked in shirt and a jumper casually knotted around his neck bop up and down to (the fairly) new song ‘Smooth Sailing.’ He noticed me out of the corner of his eye, no doubt scowling away (my default setting) and-I shit you not-whipped out his air guitar and started beckoning me over to him and his Rugger mates with the arm of his make-believe instrument. It was at that moment I decided that I really needed to stick a fork in it. Queens Of The Stone Age had become the favourite rock band for a generation of people who knew fuck all about the genre. It’s not me, Queens-it’s you.

Which leads me to this post, re-publishing a review I wrote of QOTSA in Belfast during the summer that ran in Hot Press. I’ll be honest, I pitched to review the show purely for the presence of Brody Dalle (I adored the Distillers) and fully expected another flaccid affair from Homme and co. While I wasn’t completely eating my words by the gig’s climax, it was definitely the first QOTSA show I’d enjoyed in years and left me hopeful that maybe, just maybe, they might have a surprise or two left up their sleeves. And it’s the hope that gets you, folks…



Zane hiking around the house

Ok, full disclosure. I’ve felt that ever since Nick “Rex Everything” Oliveri and Mark Lanegan departed a decade ago, it’s been a series of diminishing returns for desert rockers Queens Of The Stone Age. However, while bloated albums like Era Vulgaris have disappointed way more than delighted, I’ve always desperately hoped that Josh Homme and Co. would prove me wrong. Simply put-he’s one of the founding members of the seminal Kyuss, he has more than earned a second chance.

After being warmed up with a storming set from leather-lunged punk Brody Dalle that features some absolute gems from her Distillers days (‘Sick Of It All,’ ‘Die On A Rope’), it was time for Queens to show us their riffs. Opening with the menacing ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire,’ the track is a thrillingly thuggish experience live. Break-through single ‘No-One Knows’ keeps the excitement levels up to 11 and ‘My God Is The Sun’ and ‘Monsters In The Parasol’ ensure we’re off to a neck-bothering start.

Sounding brash, ballsy and occasionally utterly brilliant, QOTSA excel in an open air venue and tonight they more than make up for that awful Belfast, Odyssey gig nine months ago which felt more like a wake than a rock show. There are still a few wobbles tonight though. Newie ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ and ‘I’m A Designer’ are dreary efforts and there is nothing from their self-titled first (and best) album in the set, but there are encouraging signs that Homme isn’t merely going through the motions and is still a punk at heart.

He berates the heavy handed bouncers, slags off the “free-loaders” in the nearby apartment blocks and in ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ he has a true rock anthem that will never age. Finishing with ‘A Song For The Dead,’ QOTSA’s third ever Belfast show feels more like a triumph than a failure overall and this old school Kyuss and Queens fan left feeling hopeful for their future for the first time in years.