Pentre Fest 2022

Pentre Fest 2022
McLeans, Pentre
25/26.02.22
Review by Beth Jones and Alun Jones
Photography by Beth Jones


Day 1 – 25th February

Well, this one had been a long time coming. The last big gig we’d attended before what I’m now lovingly referring to as ‘The Clusterfuck’ was Pentre Fest 2020. February 2020 – remember those days? Before the whole world simultaneously stopped, complained, went a bit mad, then fell out with each other… So bloody hell was I ready for this gig. And it was somewhat of a reunion of part of team Ever Metal – with Roving Reporter Rob and North Wales’ finest, Platinum Al joining the merry trio! And here are our collective thoughts on the first day of what was set to be an absolute barnstormer of a weekend! (Well, mine and Al’s anyway – Rob was busy networking and interviewing!)

Navnlos – Alun Jones

The first band this year was Navnlos and I love these guys, so that was a pretty good start! They deliver some heavy Groove Metal, that’s powerful and relentless. I also detected something of a nasty Grunge element, like Tad jamming Pantera songs in Venom’s garage. Navnlos feature evil riffs, primal rhythms and ogre like vocals – it’s the sound of a rampaging army of berserkers storming your tea party. Bloody great way to kick things off! 

https://www.facebook.com/Navnlosband

Ryuko – Beth Jones

Opening the outdoor ‘Unleashed’ acoustic stage were local garage rockers, Ryuko. They play a brand of Grungy Rock, with a Pop Punk edge, that takes me right back to the 90’s – my formative years, starting a band in my mate’s garage, with my little bro on drums, me on bass and my mate on guitars. Clad in lumberjack shirts and spurious haircuts, we spent many a Saturday afternoon making a cacophonous racket and irritating neighbours. Ahh… the good old days… Anyway, I digress. This duo have something, but they haven’t quiet worked out what that something is yet. They have the sound down, but the delivery isn’t quiet keeping up. That said, it was a cold night, on a stage that was dimly lit, so I’ll cut them a bit of slack.

https://www.facebook.com/RyukoBand

Dan Moran – Beth Jones

Due to an attack of the omnipresent ‘rona, Lullaby for a Unicorn weren’t able to play this festival – we all did a collective ‘boooooo’ because we wouldn’t get to see a scowling Beany, with a broom, cleaning up the mess afterwards! BUT!! Replacing them was a last-minute stand in set from the ridiculously talented Dan Moran, front man of Reaper and now Shrapnel as well, who stepped once more into the breach with a half hour of acoustic joy. As always with this fine young gent from Liverpool, his talent absolutely brims out by the bucket load. I have never seen him give a bad performance yet and I will eat my hat if one day he does. Everything oozes with passion and pure musicianship, from the tone and execution of his guitar skills to the pinpoint dynamics in his vocals. I could wax lyrical about this chap for hours, but there’s more to get through, so I’ll simply say it was a bit good!

https://www.facebook.com/DanielMoranMusic/

Hellfire Devilles – Alun Jones

Some may have wondered how a Psychobilly band would go down at a Metal festival. Well, it turns out that Hellfire Devilles fitted in snugger than Tommy Lee’s underpants. A raucous, Rock ’n’ Roll three-piece trading in high energy, foot on the gas music – these guys wrought crazy voodoo all over the outside stage. Thumping drums, frantic guitar and slapping upright bass – along with monster movie lyrics – the set was an absolute joy. This was freaky tiki, cocktail chaos a go-go: Killerbilly has arrived! Do not miss Hellfire Devilles if you get a chance to see them. Main stage next time, please. (Beth here – I completely second this. Absolutely one of my bands of the weekend!)

https://www.facebook.com/HELLFIREDEVILLES

IN DEPTHS – Beth Jones

Back over on the main stage, and one of my favourite young Modern Metal bands were preparing to give us another blinding set. Tonight though, the IN DEPTHS boys were minus a drummer and using samples to make up for it. But they did it with such professionalism that, if you closed your eyes, you wouldn’t even have known that they were a man down. Front man Callum has such an electrifying stage presence, and the freakiest eyes I’ve ever seen when he’s growling! These guys will go very far, I can feel it in my waters!

https://www.facebook.com/InDepths

Adam Robinson Acoustic – Beth Jones

Back out on the now very cold and very dark acoustic stage, the redcoat of Metal, Adam Robinson gave us a lovely little acoustic set, standing in for the very missed Edd Case, who’d also been imprisoned by the ‘rona, again! Adam is just so much fun to watch, and audience participation is the name of the game. This was to be the first of 3 sets he did at Pentre Fest 2022. So, I won’t bang on too much now – catch part two of the review to find out more!

Raised By Owls – Beth Jones

Our Friday headliners were the sublimely ridiculous comedy Death Metal / Grindcore masters, Raised By Owls. While I still haven’t yet forgiven them for their most recent Christmas single (although it was for charity so I supposed I’ll let them off), this set was the absolute tonic that everyone needed following the couple of years we’d just had. It was silly, madcap, and full of a set list that was about 100 songs long (admittedly a lot of them were only a second or so long)! We also got treated to a singing competition, where the Raised By Owls guys learnt a very important lesson – If Jordan Bridges is at a gig, do not invite him onto a stage! It was hilarious. I don’t think I have ever laughed so heartily at a complete set in my life. But I should also point out that not only are these guys funny to the core, they’re also very competent musicians. Everything was completely tight and together, and the total crazy xen of their performance made their allotted time fly by. And every single person in that room left there with a smile on their face at the end of it. And that, my learned friends, is the healing power of music…

And there it was gone, as they say here in the Wales. The first day of Pentre Fest 2022 was done and dusted. A great time was had by all, and we were all very much looking forward to getting back to McLeans for day 2…

https://www.facebook.com/RaisedByOwls

Day 2 – 26th February

After what had been a cracking first day, we all eagerly headed back to our now second home, McLeans Pentre, ready and willing for Pentre Fest 2022 to be unleashed on us (I honestly didn’t do that as a good lead in to the first act being on the Unleashed Acoustic stage, it just tripped off the tongue nicely).

Adam Robinson (Again!) – Beth Jones

First up on the Unleashed stage was the ever happy Adam Robinson again! In true Hi-De-Hi fashion, he got the slightly hungover bunch of happy campers going in style, with bags of charm and a wicked sense of humour, portrayed through his lyrics, and sly one-liners when introducing tracks. He’s a breath of fresh air, and was a great way to start the fun!

Leatherback – Beth Jones

Opening the main stage was one man Industrial Electronica Noise machine, Leatherback. This is an artist who has gone from pole to pole in my tastes. I started off really not liking it when I first saw him, but now I get it, and I like it! So much so I even bought a patch! His use of lighting as part of the music, and a show that include no speaking or singing at all, makes everything that little bit more mysterious and menacing, and the combination of crushing guitar with Synthwave sounds really does work ridiculously well.

https://www.facebook.com/leatherbackworld

Ellena – Beth Jones

Back over on the acoustic stage, we were in for something a little different. Local busker, Ellena, who delivered a beautiful solo set. Her voice is mesmeric, full of beautiful Mezzo / Alto richness, with a mighty range, and real power. In honesty, it was a shame that she was just singing to backing tapes, because she is a wasted talent doing that. She needs to be fronting an awesome Symphonic Metal band, as she has the tone, the power, and the stage presence to do that with ease!

‘Saur – Beth Jones

Adam Robinson was a busy chappy this weekend, as he was next up on the main stage, but this time with his band, ‘Saur. They’re a 90’s-esque Pop-Punk trio who just love to have fun. And they peddled the old favourites out here – ‘Unsolicited Dick Pics’ being my personal pick of the audience participation numbers. The pleasing thing about these guys is, while they’re all about parody and fun, musically they’re really tight, and they always look like they’re having a fun time. By this point, too, everyone has pretty much drunk their hangovers away, so the audience part of the audience participation was delivered with more gusto than it had been at the beginning of the day too! Awesome fun. 

https://www.facebook.com/Saur-103682872118906

Oliver Carins – Beth Jones

Nu Metal regulars, Scarfoot, had been down on the bill for Pentre Fest 2022, but unfortunately had to pull out last minute following a health scare for their bass player, Rhys, which saw him in hospital on the day of the gig. But front man Oli still came along and gave us a very mellow and chilled out acoustic set, which really displayed his vocal talent, and guitar mastery really well. There’s something magical about the sound of a 12 string acoustic, and it has the power to take you off to happy place, especially in the middle of the afternoon on an unusually sunny February day! Great set. 

Bad Earth – Alun Jones

Although happily installed as Pentre Fest regulars, Bad Earth have had anything but a comfortable couple of years. With the band reduced to just founder member Geordie at one point, the addition of new members Karl and Ben has reinvigorated this band beyond belief. Big, fast, dirty, non-stop Biker Rock that would make my old mate Lemmy very proud indeed, Bad Earth played brilliantly and performed a highlight set. The term “power trio” does not do justice here: more like “annihilation trio”. I wore my Bad Earth T-shirt ‘cos I’m a fanboy and you can fuck objective journalism sky high. (Beth here – Bad Earth’s set was hands down my most ‘wow’ performance of the weekend. This was the first time I’d seen them with the new line up and holy hell was it good!) 

https://www.facebook.com/BADEARTH

Mad Spanner’s Michael Randall Stand Up Show – Beth Jones

Back over on the Unleashed stage, it was time for something completely different! And yes, that is a reference to Monty Python, who I have no doubt are influences of Mad Spanner’s Michael Randall, who was here to give us a hefty dose of stand-up comedy. This was his first ever half hour slot, and he had no idea how it was going to go down, if it was funny, or if he would just die on his arse. Well, dear readers, I can tell you that it was probably one of the funniest half hours I have spent in many, many years. I laughed so much my face ached and my ribs stung. It was explicit, dirty, and raucous, but God this man is funny to his bones!

https://www.facebook.com/MadSpanner

Wrath of Man – Alun Jones

On the main stage next was Wrath Of Man. My first experience of these guys and they were intense, with a capital “fucking hell mate, who just punched my teeth out?” Originally slated to appear earlier, Wrath of Man were delayed due to a horde of Visigoths on the A55 (Bad Earth moved their own set to accommodate). The Wrath encapsulate a steaming Metal cauldron of brutal riff and Thrashy ferocity, topped with growling vocals that suddenly bloom into melodically sung choruses. Uncompromising, surprising and you should check them out, like now.

https://www.facebook.com/wrathofman

Master Charger – Alun Jones

The next act to tear up the main stage was Master Charger. RIFF OVERLOAD! Quick, pals – jump on Al’s Master Charger fun bus, we’re starting a club for MC fanboys and I’ve saved you all a seat! I’d listened to Master Charger before, but never seen them live – and oh, what beauty I did behold. Sludgier than a dirty bath, doomier than the Goat of Mendes, we sold our souls for Master Charger and they gave us a blinding set of fuzzy, scuzzy rock. Seriously supreme, this trio destroyed all before them – afterward, I destroyed their merch table because yes, I bought bloody everything! I’m not pissing about; Master Charger were AMAZING.

https://www.facebook.com/mastercharger

Luke Appleton Acoustic – Beth Jones

Luke Appleton, the youngest of the Appleton brothers, who are some of the hardest working guys Heavy Metal that you will find, has become somewhat of a N.E.W Metal Productions institution! And I for one have no qualms about that. This performance was his first of three at Pentre Fest 2022, and it saw him gracing the now very dark Unleashed stage. He took us through some of his acoustic repertoire, and was even joined on stage by big brother Chris or a couple of songs. There’s something electric that happens when they both get up together on stage – a true bond of brothers. But Luke is also the consummate performer, and this was a great set to help keep us warm on what was turning into a pretty nippy evening!

https://www.facebook.com/lukeappletonofficial

Reaper – Beth Jones

I don’t think I can say much about these guys that I haven’t said before. I have run out of superlatives countless times trying to describe just how bloody good they are. And this set was no exception to that. Blistering pace and energy, enormous stage presence, plus genius level technicality and musicianship. Their brand of Progressive Thrash is in your face, tripping it’s tits off, fucking unbelievably exciting, and I just love them, the talented young blighters! If you looked at anyone’s face in that room, it was filled with joy and excitement at the vision of Reaper tearing Pentre a new one. If you haven’t yet come across these guys, I implore you to change that right now! 

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialReaperUK

Cadence Noir – Beth Jones

Apart from a raging inferno and a few litres of Rum, nothing will keep you warmer on a chilly February evening than everyone’s favourite gothic Folk ‘n’ Rollers, Cadence Noir. And that’s exactly what they did here, as headliners on the Unleashed stage. As we huddled round to keep warm, they huddled together on stage… mainly because it was only a small stage, and with 5 members and a certain need for elbow room along with the potential to have someone’s eye out with a pointed stick, otherwise known as Fiddle player, Emma’s bow, that small stage was tight. But not to be deterred, Frontman Ade simply took to the floor, his mic stand adorned with pretty puce butterfly lights. And this set became the camp, leather clad raucous Kaleigh that we all needed. Smashing show, and a great closer for the Unleashed sage.

https://www.facebook.com/CadenceNoir

Absolva – Beth Jones

The main support for Pentre Fest 2022 were one of the UK’s finest Heavy Metal outfits, Absolva! Fronted by the older Appleton, Chris, with Luke as his wingman, drummer John Bonham, and bass player Karl Schramm completing the line-up, this was a performance of the highest calibre. The professionalism and showmanship of these guys takes things to another level, and they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand within seconds. It was thunderous, fast paced, (and to use a phrase that is done to death, but perfect) pedal to the metal Heavy Metal that made it impossible not move and be caught up in the excitement. This was by far the biggest attended Pentre Fest yet, and the room was on fire throughout the entirety of Absolva’s set. Brilliant!

https://www.facebook.com/absolva

Blaze Bayley – Beth Jones

Blaze Bayley is a name that everyone knows. So to have him do a show here at our little venue in Pentre is possibly the most astonishing thing I’ve come across in a long time. I think there’s one word to describe Maestro Beany’s feelings about it… And that is ‘Moist’!!! And, by a stroke of luck, his backing band were already there, in the shape of the Absolva boys, so it couldn’t have been more perfect really – anyone would think it had been planned that way 😉!

One thing that you are always guaranteed with Blaze is showmanship. The powerful voice, the crazed eyes and elaborate facial expressions, the big hand gestures and power grabs. It’s just the Metal world’s most brilliant and endearing cliché, and we flipping loved it in that room! From start to finish, this was a show of greatness that filled every person in there with joy. And compared to the couple of times I’ve seen Blaze before, this show felt different. It felt intimate, and real. The yarns he spun, the time he took to speak to the gathered fans, even after the set, as he did a signing. It was really the perfect end to a perfect return for Pentre Fest. God I was so happy to be alive in that moment. It’s one that will live on in my memory for a long time to come.

https://www.facebook.com/officialblazebayley

And so that wrapped up another year. And this one was so very special. Our scene round here might not be as huge and vibrant as the major cities across the border, but what we have here is special. It’s passionate and caring, and the love that we’ve all missed for the last two years poured out into that room. And I feel very privileged to have been there. Once again, a great event, and thanks must, as ever, go to the hard work and dedications of Beany and Fozzy for putting their heart and soul into putting this event on. Until next year mes amis… Beth X.

LINKS:

N.E.W METAL PRODUCTIONS:

McLeans, Pentre:

Goodfor Audio:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones, Alun Jones and Ever Metal. All photographic images are the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Absolva – Side By Side

Absolva – Side By Side
Rocksector Records
Release Date: 17/04/2020
Running Time: 58:17
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9.5/10

We welcome back Absolva with their fifth album “Side By Side” and it’s good to hear they have come back in such style. These guys are at the top of their game when it comes to keeping us entertained with their songs! Yes, we can compare some of their music to great bands such as Maiden & Saxon etc but they stand proud on their own merit. With ten new tracks and two covers they give us nearly an hour of pure Heavy Metal! Absolva are led by the strong vocals of Christopher Appleton, who also plays lead guitar and produced the album, along with Luke Appleton (Iced Earth) on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Martin Mcnee on drums and Karl Schramm on bass and backing vocals. The drumming was recorded in Belgium in November 2018 and other parts of the album were recorded at Rocksector HQ in Manchester during 2019/2020. Mastering was done by Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden, Voodoo Six and Tank amongst others) The front cover art work was the work of Akriant Illustrations (Iron Maiden, Star Wars, Blaze Bayley) and I’m telling you this because Absolva always deliver a great package.

“Side By Side” is very much an album of anthems, ‘The Skies Your Limit’ is one such track with some absolutely crazy riffing and manic drumming, Absolva certainly keep you on your toes. On the title track you can imagine a large crowd singing the chorus at the tops of their voices, fists held high. Just when you think it’s going to be a slower song…boom you get hit by the guitar solo and drumming and then it’s back to the slower vocals and the combination is brilliant. Christopher’s voice is so powerful yet you hear every single word he sings and with the, also powerful, backing vocals coming in at just the right times everything feels spot on!

My favourite track is definitely ‘Legion’! I’ve sat with my head phones on listening to this song over and over and the epic guitar riffs are so air guitar worthy, you end up banging your head along while yelling Legion every time they do (sorry neighbours, oops) but I don’t think the guys would be too worried if they knew, I get the feeling they love what they do and like to whoop up the crowds at their gigs. Other tracks like ‘Eternal Soul’ prove that although they get compared to other great band’s they have their own identity and following. It’s great to hear such a talented bunch, musically and vocally, all combined together delivering quality song after quality song!

The bonus tracks of ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ (Iron Maiden) and ‘Heaven And Hell’ (Black Sabbath) are both brilliantly covered but never take away from Absolva’s own raw talent, they really stand on their own two feet! Yes we know all bands are influenced by others they have listened to and admired from their past but the fresh material from Absolva, and the very obvious talent they have, puts them on a pedestal!

Absolva are going from strength to strength with each album, this is their fifth since they got together in 2012 (plus a live album/DVD), are certainly showing others how it should be done and that a smaller UK band can easily compete with larger, more established acts. They work tirelessly but absolutely love what they do and it shines through on “Side By Side”. This is an album I shall have on repeat for a long time. Well done lads!

TRACKLISTING:

01. Advocate Your Fate
02. Burning Star
03. The Sky’s Your Limit
04. Side By Side
05. Living A Lie
06. Legion
07. Eternal Soul
08. End Of Days
09. Heart Lets Go
10. From This World

Bonus Tracks:

11. 2 Minutes to Midnight (Iron Maiden Cover)
12. Heaven And Hell (Black Sabbath Cover)

LINKS:

www.absolva.com
www.facebook.com/Absolva
www.instagram.com/Absolva
www.twitter.com/Absolva
www.youtube.com/user/Absolva

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Pentre Fest 2020 – Day 2 22/02/20 – Luke Appleton

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Pentre Fest 2020 – Day 2 – 22/02/20

Pentre Fest 2020 Day Two
Mcleans, Pentre, North Wales
22/02/2020
Review by Rick Tilley, Alun Jones and Beth Jones
Pictures by Beth Jones

Rick Here.

Saturday’s Pentre Fest, Day Two review is a collaborative affair between myself, Alun and Beth. I’ve made it clear who wrote what and I would like to thank them for their help, as well as looking after a broken 52 year old (me!) who cannot get around as quickly as he used to!

On the Saturday morning, pleasantly surprised that we weren’t hurting as much as we thought we might, we set off back to Mcleans, pausing only to pick up Powerzone’s Dani Maguire on the way, ready for a full day of Metal and Acoustic performances. It was noticeably quieter upon arriving, but a fair amount of alcohol had been consumed on the Friday, so I imagine there were a few sore heads! However, the always faithful had dragged themselves out of bed to watch the opening band of the day on the main stage…

Cheerfully Undiagnosed

Pop/Punker Cheerfully Undiagnosed (aka Adam Robinson) had also performed early on the Saturday at Pentre Fest the previous year, waking everyone up and putting a smile on our collective faces. Now expanded to a two piece, (with the addition of a drummer) they did the same this year. Vocalist/Guitarist Adam will probably be the first to admit that the material is simple, but he performs it with a huge glint of fun in his eyes and is very comical to boot. Getting a selection of hungover and tired metallers to sing along to tracks such as ‘I’ve Just Been Sick’ and ‘Unsolicited Dick Pic’ was hilarious to watch and take part in and it’s just the sort of thing you need to kick your day into gear!

https://www.facebook.com/Cheerfully-Undiagnosed-1791893794227072/

Edd Case

One person we certainly hadn’t expected to see was Edd Case. In the week running up to Pentre Fest Edd had been taken ill, spending two days in hospital, so to see him turn up on the Saturday with his guitar, looking like death warmed up was a bit of a shock. After telling him off, he proceeded to blow us all away on the acoustic stage with a short set of songs, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play or sound better. His original songs are beautifully written and any covers he plays are turned completely on their head, always recognisable but played in a way only he can. He was excellent but, like Brian, he was still ‘a very naughty boy’ for turning up!

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014628035630

Stormrider

Next up on the main stage we were due to get our first proper Metal fix of the day from a band I hadn’t seen live before but was really looking forward to, Manchester based NWOTHM four piece Stormrider and ‘by the power of Greyskull’ did they deliver. If, like me, you love a good dose of Trad Metal, mixed up with some Power and Thrash influences, played as tightly as a gnat’s chuff and delivered with the force of a Challenger Tank then you’ll love Stormrider. Their not long enough set was excellent and looking around at the growing crowd it was clear I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Afterwards I immediately went and bought their EP and hope it isn’t too long before we see them again!

https://www.facebook.com/stormriderofficial/

I nipped outside for a breather and immediately got caught up talking to people. For my sins I missed most of the next artist on the acoustic stage but, luckily, Alun didn’t so here are his thoughts on Rhiannon.

Rhiannon Petrou (Why’d You Wanna Know)

Sadly, Pentre Fest suffered a few casualties this year. One such example was on the acoustic stage, where Rachel Sian Roberts, one half of the newly formed duo, Why’d You Wanna Know, was hospitalised and (obviously) unable to perform. But the show must go on: and Rhiannon performed a short but enjoyable set on the acoustic stage. Admittedly out of her comfort zone, playing guitar as well as singing (having only started to learn guitar a month ago) she soldiered on and won plaudits for her effort. Only a few minor mistakes were noticed – and easily forgiven. Possessing a beautiful singing voice she even managed to add a ghostly, ethereal sheen to a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ – making it sound good for the first time ever!

https://www.facebook.com/Whyd-You-Wanna-Know-105145631078966/

RipTide

Having seen the end of Rhiannon’s set and thinking what a beautiful voice she had, I headed back to the main stage to get another blast of METAL, this time from Huddersfield Thrashers RipTide, another band I hadn’t seen live before. Now Thrash is one of my favourite genres. I’m old enough to have been around when it all began and saw bands such as Exciter, Exodus, Testament and Destruction etc play when they were starting out. I was also lucky enough to see Sy Keeler’s first gig singing with Onslaught, which still stands as one of the best live performances I’ve ever witnessed. Why am I on a trip down memory lane you may ask? Well, RipTide filled me with that same sense of open-mouthed awe I got as a teenager witnessing my idols for the first time. They possess everything a Thrash band needs and they do it with style. There’s definitely an old-school ‘Bay Area’ element to their sound, but it’s mixed with a modern-day twist and slightly harsher vocals, which brings everything into the 21st Century. They were incredibly tight, playing at break neck speed when they needed to, but slowing down and leaving space for the groove as well. A highlight of the weekend, you must not miss them if they gig near you!

https://www.facebook.com/RipTideThrash/

Mine and Beth’s recent return to Ever Metal, for some reason, seemed to be going down well for many people attending and I got chatting again outside after Riptide. This meant I missed the beginning of Mike West’s set on the acoustic stage. Having seen him before I knew he was good, but Alun hadn’t, so here’s what he thought!

Mike West

If the connection between metal and outlaw country isn’t obvious to any readers, I can only pity you. I’ve never witnessed Mike West before, but his amalgamation of southern rock, dusty country and swampy blues was a delight to my old whiskey-soaked soul. Mike delivers his songs with a hard rockin’ swagger, as if he’s just busted out of Tombstone jail and is riding across the plains, lamenting women and fortunes lost. A great voice and an outstanding presence, Mike is one to catch when you can. Has anyone done a “Wild West” gag yet? If not, there’s a headline for us there!

https://www.facebook.com/mikewest333/

Folorn Hope

After Mike’s great set, it wasn’t long before our Master of Ceremonies ‘Beany’ was rounding everyone up to head back to the main stage. He didn’t have to coerce me because I had been looking forward to seeing Forlorn Hope for about a year. Historical Heavy Metal may sound odd to some (although, it’s never done Sabaton any harm) but Forlorn Hope manage it with aplomb. They have been described as “a musical version of Bernard Cornwall’s ‘Sharpe’ novels” and I couldn’t put it any better myself. They haven’t been together that long, but arrived on stage like a much more seasoned outfit. Their Classic Heavy Metal sound mixed with Military History of the Peninsular War of 1807-1814 lyrics and a little in-between song humour from vocalist/rhythm guitarist Chris Simpson works perfectly and you should really seek them out. If there is one negative it is that keyboard player Jade McKenna doesn’t get more involved or smile. Her playing is more than acceptable, and the keyboards definitely add something to the music, but she looks very ‘stiff’ on stage compared to the rest of the band!

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialForlornHope/

By this point my spine was starting to groan and I needed a break, so I’ll leave you in the more than capable hands of Beth who went to check out Ben MIlford on the Acoustic Stage.

Ben Milford

Normally we’re used to seeing Ben shredding in the shadows, as he’s the super skilled, but incredibly humble, guitarist in OMV. His acoustic performance wasn’t just a new experience for us – it was also the first time he’d done an acoustic set on his own. Talking to him beforehand, we discovered that he was pretty nervous about it, because it meant stepping out of his comfort zone by singing as well as playing. He needn’t have been nervous though, because his performance was brilliant, and he has a lovely voice. On a couple of songs, he had extra vocal support from his band mate Richie, front man of OMV, and the unstoppable Edd Case! To be honest though, he didn’t need it. He did a fabulous job on his own, and we got to see another side of him, which we really liked.

Scars Of Remembrance

Sore back or not, I wasn’t going to miss our friends in Scars Of Remembrance, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made for a long time, so I hope you don’t mind me waxing lyrical! Since vocalist Mike Edwards’ departure from the band late last year, SOR have been without a steady frontman. They’d decided that, for this gig, guitarist Mark Harris was going to sing (he already does backing vocals and has a good voice), but it was clear beforehand that he was in pain. It turns out he had cracked two ribs in a fall and wasn’t able to play guitar, and I think there were nerves within the band as to how this was going to go down.

They needn’t have worried, because within half a song, the now much more healthy crowd was looking at the stage and at each other in astonishment. Regardless of the pain he was in, which must have been very uncomfortable and deserves a medal on its own, no-one could quite believe the voice (both clean and screamed) that was coming from Mark’s lungs. He is a very quiet individual off stage, but this was an absolutely mesmerising performance, and easily the best I had ever seen Scars Of Remembrance play. Having just four of them on stage gives them more space. Bassist Karl Ditcher certainly came out of his shell (he also joined in on backing vocals presenting an excellent bear-like roar), guitarist Daniel Dawson admirably covered the missing guitar with his riffing, and drummer Ben Burke played like a man possessed, thumping the living daylights out of the kit. However, Mark was the star of the show and it’s quite obvious that they don’t need to find a new singer!

Afterwards, many people spent an awful lot of time telling them this, and I really hope they listen. I already thought they were a great band, but this performance elevated them to the next level! My band of the weekend bar none!

https://www.facebook.com/scarsofremembrance/

Back at the acoustic stage it was time for Adam Robinson to play a set and I shall leave Beth to tell you about that.

Adam Robinson (Cheerfully Undiagnosed)

Still stoked from what I’d just seen on the main stage, I headed back to the acoustic room to watch Adam Robinson deliver his second set of the day, this time acoustically and on his own. It was no less cheerful than his earlier offering, and his witty banter and repartee kept the crowd enthralled. Again, his chosen songs weren’t overly fussy or complex, just good fun. He is a great act if the audience need a bit of a giggle and a livener, and his endearing stage persona could warm the hearts of even the coldest of souls!

At this point, along with Dani from Powerzone, we had arranged to interview the bonafide superstar, and absolute gentleman, that is Luke Appleton (Iced Earth & Absolva), alongside Rishi Mehta (Babylon Fire) who would be performing an acoustic set together later that day. While we did that Alun was watching OMV and here are his thoughts!

OMV

On the main stage, OMV entered dressed like a bunch of West Coast gangsters in masks and bandanas. Introduced as “hardcore street metal”, these guys definitely showed some great musical skills and energy. Somewhere between Bodycount, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard is where I’d stack them. Either way, OMV delivered some brutal songs and bounced around with massive crossover riffs. They were very entertaining, although hugely confrontational onstage – I wasn’t sure if they were actually going to pistol whip the audience into submission. The music has enough intensity and power to speak for itself.

https://www.facebook.com/omvmetalband/

While I took a plethora of pain killers, washed down with a pint (don’t have a go at me) Beth headed to the acoustic stage to watch the second performance of the weekend from the excellent Cry For Mercy.

Cry For Mercy Acoustic

We’re quickly running out of adjectives to describe these guys, but I’ll have a bash at a few more here, to describe their set on the acoustic stage! We’re big fans of these guys at Ever Metal, and have seen them many times now, but not stripped back like this. As usual though, their performance was a masterclass in how to deliver a great acoustic rock and blues set. Drummer Steven Taylor kept the rhythms going on Cajon, which gave the set that extra acoustic feel, and the grooves were upheld by guitarist Andy Cutty and bassist/vocalist Kev Plant. This set upheld their super-tight musicianship, with all of them on point all of the time. One of the things I like most about them is how comfortable they look when they play. The feel they give to the music is both smooth and charismatic, and you can’t help being drawn into it, making toe-tapping and head nodding obligatory! This set was so chilled that it would not have been out of place on a ‘hideout’ stage at a midsummer festival somewhere in the Texas Deep South. It oozed groove and proved just how versatile these guys are.

https://www.facebook.com/cryformercyofficial/

By now I was going numb so I knew I could manage some more music and I went back to the main stage to watch Son Of Boar, however Alun rather enjoyed their set (I did too), so he’s written this short, but very complimentary review.

Son Of Boar

They have a cool name, and they looked pretty cool on stage in matching denim battle-vests. From the very first notes of the bass rumbling on the very first song, I had a feeling that Son of Boar would be something special. I wasn’t wrong. These Bradford bruisers have everything in spades: they’re unfeasibly heavy; they have slow, doomy riffs with a Sabbath-like infectiousness and they have a sludgy, swampy groove that can pack an aggressive punk punch. The best band of Pentre Fest 2020 as far as I was concerned, Son of Boar were superb. I even bought a t-shirt!

https://www.facebook.com/SonOBoar/

At this point Edd Case played a second set on the acoustic stage and it was the one time, all weekend, we missed a performance. However, as we’d seen him earlier in the day and he was still a very naughty boy for even turning up, he’s going to forgive us…aren’t you Edd?

Severenth

Back at the main stage it was time for the awesome Severenth to play and, once again, they showed why it is so good to have them back on the scene. When these guys were around the first time they toured the US and played the hallowed Wacken Open Air, among others and their pedigree shone through from start to finish. Vocalist Peet Bailey is a wonderful frontman, possessing a huge voice and bags of energy, Ben Jones thunders on the bass, guitarists Jack Somers and Adam Sidor are the perfect foils for each other, and drummer Dave Roberts is a mass of arms and rhythm. Together they a make a brutal, but very catchy team, and the sooner they release a new album the better!

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSeverenth/

We were now heading towards the climax of the Festival, but there were still two performances to go. First up were the headliners on the acoustic stage, namely Luke Appleton (Iced Earth, Absolva) and Rishi Mehta (Babylon Fire) who put on a wonderful performance. As Alun hadn’t seen Luke acoustically before he kindly supplied the write-up of the set!

Luke Appleton and Rishi Mehta

A really fantastic set was delivered by Mr Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage. In truth, this was a duo performance with Rishi Mehta (of Babylon Fire) playing too, and it was a genuine highlight of Pentre Fest 2020. Dubbed “acoustic metal”, the songs were both suitably laidback, yet delivered with a metal edge. Expertly performed, we had tunes from Luke’s solo “Snake Eyes” project, plus of course some Iced Earth and Absolva numbers. Not to mention a bit of Dio and Tenacious D for good measure! A real class act in every sense of the word, and both very talented and down-to-earth gentlemen.

https://www.facebook.com/lukeappletonofficial/

WomenOwar

After a short break, where some of us braved the horrendous wind that was pummelling Mcleans outside (actually, now I think about it, bearing in mind who was due to appear onstage, it could well have been the ‘True Metal wind of Joey DeMaio’s 24 string bass guitar), we headed back to the main stage to witness the climax of Pentre Fest 2020 – WomenOwar!! Now, there had been rumblings (no, not from my stomach) that WomenOwar were threatening to pull out of their performance as there’d been a massive argument between Floss The Boss and Davina Shenkles over who was going to wear the deep blue eyeliner and baby oil, but luckily tragedy was averted! Of course, had this been the real Manowar we would all have been sat twiddling our thumbs calling Joey a complete and utter wan…!

Yes I’m joking, sort of! WomenOwar are an ‘all women, not all women’ Manowar Tribute band and they were absolutely brilliant! Formed for a one-off performance in 2018 they now find themselves in demand, possibly because Manowar really do argue over who is going to wield the He-Man sword and get the best painted on six-pack, but more likely because they are very funny and play the songs superbly!

Made up from members of the awesome Dakesis, Fury and Christgrinder you just knew the musical prowess was going to be top notch, and so it proved to be. Armed with a wig and mascara collection that Steel Panther would be proud of (in fact Manowar would be proud of it as well), they proceeded to blow us all away with a majestic set of Manowar classics that the crowd lapped up! It was the perfect climax to a wonderful weekend. As it says on their website “the band have weathered even the most unconquerable challenges to consistently bring you 100% of the Manowar for 1% of the price of actual Manowar”, and that says everything really. Go see them! You won’t be disappointed, because WomenOwar will actually turn up and play!!

https://www.facebook.com/womenowarband/

So, that’s Pentre Fest wrapped up for another year. In all seriousness, it was incredible and everyone I spoke to enjoyed themselves immensely. Sound was perfect all weekend on both stages and the only thing that let us down was the weather but having the sometimes ‘not acoustic’ stage inside really worked well!

Massive thanks must go to the team at North East Wales Metal Productions for assembling another cracking line-up of bands and acoustic artists, and especially to Fozzy for getting through what must have been an awful weekend for him.

We were all well looked after by Pat and the staff at Mcleans, they do a sterling job, the bands were friendly and approachable all weekend and, of course, it wouldn’t be the same without all of you who turned up to watch.

Pentre Fest is a wonderful grass roots event and it should be thoroughly applauded. I’m already primed for 2021!

LINKS:

https://www.facebook.com/pentrefest/
https://www.facebook.com/N.E.WMetalProductions/
https://www.facebook.com/GoodforaudioEntertainment/
https://www.facebook.com/McleansPubLive/
https://www.facebook.com/Powerzonemetal/
https://www.facebook.com/TheImpactZoneOnRadioDeeside/
https://www.facebook.com/LA1Audio/
https://www.facebook.com/evermetal2017/

Disclaimer: This review and photographs are solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Absolva – Flames Of Justice

Flames Of Justice Cover

Absolva – Flames Of Justice
Rocksector Records
Release Date: 05/11/2012
Running Time: 51:47
Review by Rick Tilley
9/10

Hi Everyone. One of the previous places I wrote reviews for was US Radio Station Brutiful Metal Radio which closed its doors a while back and their website disappeared along with all the reviews I wrote! I thought it would be great if we could repost the reviews on Ever Metal so that they are not lost completely and, possibly, you can discover some great albums and bands you may have missed the first time around! Do bear in mind that line-ups may have changed and, in some cases, the bands may be no more but the albums created at that time are what is important so delve into the fairly recent path and have a read!
This Absolva review first appeared in 2013
What happens when your band is on the verge of breaking through and then the bass player gets asked to join metal titans Iced Earth? That is what happened to heavy rock trio Fury UK last year. Instead of replacing Luke Appleton, brother, lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Appleton and drummer Martin McNee put that band on hiatus and formed Absolva, “Flames Of Justice” was their debut album released in the second half of 2012 and they hit the ground running faster than Usain Bolt on steroids. Fusing the heavy rock sound of their previous act with classic metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon “Flames Of Justice” is a blinding album. Joined here by bassist Dan Bate and lead and rhythm guitarist Tom Atkinson (who has since departed due to other commitments), Absolva aren’t completely retro though. There is enough of a modern twist to their sound to keep fans old and new very happy, a point proved by the size and diversity of crowds at their gigs.
“Flames Of Justice” kicks off with the screaming title track, and that alone leaves you in no doubt that Absolva mean serious business. Followed by ‘Hundred Years’, ‘Code Red’ (which is sure to become a live classic),’From Beyond The Light’ and ‘Breathe’, which thanks to Chris Appleton’s slightly Dave Mustaine style delivery could be a Megadeth song, in fact “Red Lamb”, Mustaine’s recent collaboration album with Dan Spitz would be a good reference point for Absolva. This is full of crunchy riffs, choruses that stay in your brain long after the album has finished, great solo and duel guitar work that fits the songs extremely well, a good variety of tempo and rhythm section of a very high calibre that ties the whole thing together beautifully. “Flames Of Justice” has been well produced, mixed and mastered by Matt Elliss, although if anything he hasn’t quite managed to catch the raw power that Absolva share on the live circuit. That is a pretty small criticism though for a band that really is set to keep the spirit of classic metal alive if they continue to produce work of this quality.
There is something strangely alluring about Absolva’s music. It feels very familiar, as if you have known the band for years, but at the same time it adds new and exciting flavours, a bit like a good wine, and that great mix has had me going back to this album time and time again to enjoy its contents. Another of the great bands on Rocksector Records you genuinely have to keep an eye out for Absolva because they are going places!
TRACKLISTING:
01: Flames of Justice
02 .Hundred Years
03: Code Red
04: It Is What It Is
05: Breathe
06: State of Grace
07: From Beyond the Light
08: Free
09: Love to Hate
10: Only When It’s Over
11: Empires
LINKS:
http://www.absolva.com/
https://www.facebook.com/absolva/

https://www.instagram.com/absolva/

https://www.youtube.com/user/Absolva
 
 
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Luke Appleton – How Does It Feel To Be Alive? EP

How Does It Feel To Be Alive EP Cover

Luke Appleton – How Does It Feel To Be Alive? EP
Rocksector Records
Release Date: 09/03/2018

Running Time: 14:39
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

If it were possible to look up the Appleton family in the dictionary, the definition would read; ‘verb – to keep going and going and going, see also Duracell!’, and Luke is certainly no exception to that rule! Not content with a massive tour schedule, both as Bassist for Iced Earth, promoting their “Incorruptible” album, and Rhythm Guitarist with Absolva promoting their “Defiance” Album, Luke has now recorded a 4 track acoustic EP, “How Does It Feel To Be Alive?”, which he will be promoting as special guest on a 37 date up and coming European Tour with Blaze Bayley. I need a sit down just thinking about it!

Produced by Luke’s brother, Chris, singer and lead guitarist with Absolva and Blaze Bayley, the EP was recorded at their studio in Manchester and shows off the depths of Luke’s talent, passion and love of music.

With an almost folk – rock feel, Luke has laid down some beautiful melodies and harmonies, but has managed to keep a good pace to each track, which makes it easy to listen to but not an atmosphere killer. It makes me think of carefree summer evenings sat around a campfire with friends having a jam with a guitar and few beers.

I actually hate Luke right now for being so irritatingly talented! His obvious passion drives his talent, which in turn drives his passion, creating a technically complete musician. His vocals are great, well controlled and pleasingly wide ranging in dynamics – he isn’t too timid, but he doesn’t shout too much, and he still maintains a raw edge that lets you feel his inner rocker! His chord progressions and melody lines sit nicely, if a little safely at some points, and nothing is too frilly or over – done.

If I had to pick a favourite track, it would be ‘Three Eyed Crow’. For me this is the most technically complicated track, with lots of changes, overlapping rhythms and more interesting vocal harmonies. It has a largely different feel to the other three tracks. It feels like a full on acoustic song and is, for me, the most ‘complete’ track on the record.

It is this that would be my one criticism of the EP. Apart from ‘Three Eyed Crow’, the tracks feel like there is something missing; that they should actually be full on, whole band songs, but they have just been stripped down for an acoustic gig. I can’t listen to them and not put full on ‘Rock Band’ orchestration to them in my head. The vocals and guitar echo each other a lot and the same riffs are revisited a little too often – for me this detracts slightly from what are essentially really good, solid tunes. But in the grand scheme of things, he is nowt but a nipper and things like this will become more refined with experience, especially with the dedication that he throws in to everything he does.

TRACKLISTING:
01. How Does It Feel To Be Alive?
02. The Fear Is A Lie
03. Three Eyed Crow
04. The Sound Of Liberty

LINKS:

Promo Pic1 (3)

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities

Interview with Luke Appleton

Skype Interview with Luke Appleton
Sunday 3rd September 2017
Somewhere around lunchtime, with a cup of tea!
Interview by Beth Jones and Rick Tilley

For those of you who have not encountered the Appleton family, they are a beacon of professionalism and dedication in the hectic UK Metal scene. Today we had the pleasure of interviewing the baby of the clan, Luke, the rhythm guitarist with Absolva, in preparation for their up and coming European tour. It was great to chat to Luke to find out all about the tour, his journey with Iced Earth, and his views and experiences of the past, present and future of his career.

Ever Metal: It is lovely to be able to catch up with you again – it has been a while since we last spoke. So, the new album with Absolva, ‘Defiance’ came out about a month ago – tell us how that’s going down and how’s it has been accepted by everyone?

Luke: It’s been fantastic actually! We’re really happy with the response all the fans have given us. We’re very proud of this album. It’s been a very pleasurable experience in the studio recording it with everyone. Myself and Chris –  my brother, we’ve been working very hard on the writing –  a lot more together more than ever actually. On ‘Never A Good Day To Die’, our previous album, we co-wrote a lot of the songs together. However, this time I think we did it even more; I think you can tell that we’ve taken a lot of influence from the Iced Earth side, and the Blaze Bayley side, and kind of fused them together. I think that definitely shows with ‘Defiance’. It’s been a brilliant experience so far, and all the fans have taking it very well. I can’t wait for the tour really and to play all these new songs live!

Beth: That was my next question! The European Tour is starting 15th September – tell us all about that?

Luke: Well! Big European Tour!! It’s been a while since we’ve toured together due to our other commitments, but we’re very excited about it. We’ve got a good bunch of dates; a lot of these places we’ve been to quite a few times before and had some amazing crowds. We are returning to Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Czech Republic and we’re doing some shows in the UK in December as well. But we’ve got a very good hardcore following in France at the moment, which has been building for the last few years. We’ve got a very special show in Chez Paulette, for example, that’s going to be really good, we’re selling a lot of tickets for that! It’s always been full of die-hard Absolva fans, so we’re especially looking forward to that. But the whole tour is filled with amazing venues that we’ve been through in the past. It’s almost like a ‘best of’ tour kind of thing, but it’s going to be really good to tour this album. We’re extreme excited to get all the new songs out there.

Beth: So, at the moment the rest of the guys are in America touring with Blaze; What have you been doing while they’re out there?!

RICK: In case people don’t know, of course, you also do another job!

Luke: Yeah! Well whilst the boys have been out over in the States with The Blaze Bayley Band –  they’ve been out there for a while now, but they’re coming home soon –  I’ve been keeping busy with Iced Earth as I’m the bass player. I have been doing the summer festivals with them, which has been very fun actually! We’ve only just finished a few weeks ago, but we had about 12 festivals all over Europe. We did some really amazing ones. One of my personal highlights was Alcatraz Festival in Belgium. Belgium has always been kind of a second home for me. I’m sure the Belgium beer has something to do with that!! (lots of laughing) But the people are amazing.

We did Metaldays in Slovenia, and Sweden Rocks Festival. We did some amazing stuff, and we were out there promoting our new album, ‘Incorruptible’, which was released only a couple of months ago again. So, it’s been fantastic to tour that album a little bit and get to see all the Iced Earth boys again!

Beth: How does the balance between Absolva and Iced Earth work?

Luke: It’s surprisingly easy! The scheduling has been pretty amazing! As soon as I joined Iced Earth I thought, ‘everything is going to be 110 percent Iced Earth’, which in a lot of ways it is – Iced Earth is the priority for me – but I just thought I’d have no time for anything else. My down time would be just me sitting at home waiting for the next Iced Earth tour!  But, it’s worked out well, so in between those gaps I’ve had with Iced Earth, we’ve been able to plan Absolva tours with my brother (Chris Appleton – Absolva singer and lead guitarist) and so far, we haven’t really had any clashes, so it’s worked out very well – if I’m on tour with Iced Earth for a couple of months, it’s usually the case that my brother and the rest of the Absolva band are on tour with Blaze. It’s got such so much potential to become very messy, and we could clash a lot of the tour dates, but so far, it’s worked out really brilliantly! Fingers crossed that it will carry on like that for the coming years.

RICK: Does John (John Schaffer – founder member of Iced Earth) mind? Because I seem to remember when you first joined that there was a thought that you wouldn’t be able to do other stuff, but in the last couple of years, especially, I’ve seen, you more and more with Absolva. So, is he still happy with you moving across and doing other stuff?

Luke: Yeah. I basically just asked his permission, and what he thought about this thing, and he was perfectly fine with it. He was always fine with me doing recordings with the band and then as Absolva grew, I did more tours with them. Obviously, the past few years Iced Earth haven’t been completely full on, so I’ve been able to do more and more Absolva tours. Iced Earth are going to get ramped up again next year and do a full on proper tour for ‘Incorruptible’. That’s more potential for things to clash, se we are going to have to prioritize and plan out with a bit more care. But so far so good! I’m very happy with the way I can balance everything out and it’s been good. I think everybody’s happy about that.

Beth: So, you’ve had a pretty crazy year, so far; What’s been your highlight of this year?

Luke: Well, playing live is my main drive in the music business really. I love playing live and to play at these festivals this past summer has been fantastic really. There’s been some amazing audiences; some huge crowds we’ve done, so that is always my biggest adrenaline rush. That’s always going to be a highlight for me. At the beginning of the year, it was quite hectic because I was recording two albums!! I was recording ‘Incorruptible’ for Iced Earth, and ‘Defiance’ for Absolva. We did ‘Defiance’ first, I think it was the end of December beginning of January, something like that, then literally a few days after I finished in the studio with Absolva, I flew out to the States to record ‘Incorruptible’. So, it was ‘right I’ve got to switch from Absolva a mode and go in to Iced Earth mode’ which I found really fun, because it was just a good solid month or two just on the songwriting and recording. It was brilliant to just zone out everything else and focus purely on the songs, and to go over to the States and stay with John and the boys for a little over a week or so, record my bass parts and just hang out –  that was really nice. It’s something we don’t get much chance to do because we all live so far away from each other – everybody lives in the States, the singer lives in Canada, and I live here in England. So, it’s great to just hook up and do some song writing and get to hang out a bit.

Beth: How do you keep going with the schedule you have?! Do you ever sleep?!!

Rick: Not just you – it’s Chris and the boys too, as well as Mark and Lynne – you just never stop!!

Luke: That’s the way we like it! When Chris had some down time, he decided ‘I don’t want to have down time – I’m going to record an acoustic album and going to call it Restless!!’ So, it kind of like that with all our lives really, because we just don’t really want to stop! Whatever opportunity we get, we’ll always find something to do – go on tour, write an album, do something you know, whether it’s within the grounds of our bands and what we do; Me and Chris have similar kind of goals and aspects with what we do – our main thing again is playing live really. We want to play as many shows as possible, but also make sure the quality of those shows is the best possible. So those are our goals, and I think in this tour with Absolva coming up in a couple weeks, that is definitely going to show. It’s going to be fantastic to play this new album because I think this is going to be a big album for Absolva. We both have that same feeling and hope for this tour.

Beth: It is a superb album. We were listening to it again last night. I love it – it’s brilliant!

Luke: Thank you. We are very, very proud of it.

Rick: Well there aren’t many bands, nowadays, that can do four studio albums and a live album in basically five years is there? I can’t think of any other bands that could work at that schedule. It’s very old school isn’t it – it’s how it used to work?

Luke: Yeah exactly. It’s just an album a year we kind of used to work off, and whether it’s a live album or a studio album, we’ve just done it. We’re very, very pleased with it. And again, it’s something we want to do – we want to keep busy, keep the fans entertained, keep the material coming out – every time we release an album, a couple of months down the line, they ask ‘when’s the next one out?’! We haven’t even toured this one yet!!! (lots of laughing)

Beth: So, what’s next in the long term? Your plans for the next year with Absolva and Iced Earth?

Rick: You’ve mentioned Iced Earth touring much more next year, so if Absolva tour again, they will be going out without you, we assume?

Luke: We try and avoid that as much as possible – It has happened where Absolva have done it without me, I think it was SOS last year – SOS Festival which is the Appleton run festival in Manchester -Absolva did it without me and they just performed as a three piece because I was playing at Bang Your Head Festival in Germany with Iced Earth. That’s probably one of the only times we’ve ever done it, but we try and avoid that as much as possible and plan ahead as much as possible so that we can all be together, because the line -up is us four in Absolva now, we’ve established that, it’s not a three piece. It’s definitely us four as a band. So, we like to try and make that happen as much as possible.

There is going to be more Iced Earth touring because we really want to push the new album ‘Incorruptible’. Plans are going to come to a head for next year, but whilst that’s going to happen, the rest of the boys in Absolva have got another album to do with Blaze Bayley, which I believe they are recording at the end of this year. That will kind of finalize the trilogy of the Blaze Bayley’s story. They are going to tour that heavily, pretty much do exactly the same as they’ve done this year and last year, just do a mega tour for this as a finale of his trilogy. I think the scheduling is going to line up pretty similarly again. Iced Earth are going to be on tour whilst Blaze are on tour so it’s impossible to do any Absolva in that time. But something probably will happen for Absolva – we’ve just got to plan it and finalize it. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

Beth: You are playing in Sound Control, Manchester in December as part of the Absolva tour. How much are you looking forward to that– your home coming gig?

Luke: Very much so actually! Because even though we live here, we don’t actually get to play it that much, so it’s really nice that to finish the tour off, the last two shows of the December run, after Newcastle and Glasgow, are Manchester which is mine, Chris’ and Martin’s home town, and then we’ve got Swindon, which is Karl, our Bass player’s home town, so it’s really cool! We get to finish the whole tour off with two hometown shows. I think that’s going to be really special – there’s going to be a lot of good vibes, a lot of friends, family and a lot of really good hardcore fans there. I’m looking forward to that because it’s going to be a very good celebration, and home coming, if you want to say that, after a big long tour. It’s going to be good – definitely a highlight.

Beth: With you all being so busy, is it difficult to find a good work / life balance? Or does it just become your life?!

Luke: It’s pretty much become my life. Whenever I’m at home, I’ve got some hardcore friends and whatnot who really have stuck by and supported me throughout the years, since we really started to be honest, but the band comes first. There’s so many birthdays and family occasions that we’ve missed because the band always comes first. Many relationships with the boys have come and gone, kind of thing, but you know – it’s a hard life to handle, but we’ve got our eye on the prize!

Beth: An interesting one for you here – Will we ever see a Fury UK gig again for nostalgia’s sake?

Luke: We get asked this quite a lot actually! I really like the idea of it. However, it’s just finding the time to do it! Obviously, we’ve got three bands to balance with, so throwing a fourth in there – there are only a certain amount days in the year, you know! I would really like it to be honest. My dream plan would be getting Fury UK to headline at SOS Festival one year and make a little mini tour around that – a lot of people in the UK ask for it and a lot of people in Belgium were really keen on Fury UK, so it would be really good to do that again; to bring back all those lovely memories that we had, and to treat the fans. A lot of those Fury UK fans have gone on to follow Absolva and keep on backing the band. We still get people coming to Iced Earth shows even with an old Fury UK CD, wanting me to sign that. So, the fans still remember! It would be really cool to do that one day and we’ve talked about it a few times, it’s just finding the time and the place really. I think it will definitely happen. We’ll just discuss it and figure it out first.

Beth: If you had one story, from your career so far, that you’d want to tell the grandkids in years to come, what would it be?

Luke: A non-explicit one probably!! (Lots of laughing) I think one of my most memorable times was in Iced Earth, I would say. It was my first show with the band. We were in Toronto Canada, and we were opening for the band Volbeat. This was my first tour with the band, I think about five years ago now. It was an unbelievably nice but scary feeling. Just before the show I was crazily nervous, because Iced Earth had been one of my favourite bands for many years, and I was over the moon when they offered me the job. I knew a lot of the songs already, and when I was rehearsing and everything, I’m like ‘this is great! I’m playing some of my favourite songs, playing with my favourite band’. Then when it came to the day, maybe 10 minutes before the intro was going to start, I was just so nervous – my whole body was shaking – I was just unbelievably nervous and I remember John just coming over to me and giving me a big hug and just saying ‘you’re going to be all right. You’re going to do really well – have fun, just be natural out there’, and then I went on stage, played the first note and the fear went away and adrenaline took over. I think if I ever have grandkids, that would be one story to tell, because that was just such a monumental part of my life and experience. The way I look at it is just overcome your nervousness and your fear, and just go for it and then, ultimately, you will prevail – and something amazing has come out of that. That would be a story that I would like to tell one day.

Beth: You’ve already mentioned next year you going to have a heavier schedule again with Iced Earth in the summer. Have you got any festivals lined up that you can tell us about yet that have already been announced?

Luke: Not at the moment. We’ve not got anything concrete yet. Anything that I would be able to say has to be announced first, but we’ve got some very good plans. I’ve heard a lot of cool discussions about what we’re going to be doing next year. It’s very, very exciting, and it’s killing me that I can’t say it!

Rick: I want you at Bloodstock!

Luke: Yeah, that would be nice. I would love that!! I feel like it’s like a Game Of Thrones spoiler kind of thing! (laughing)

Beth: What about with Absolva – have you got anything with them that is already announced that you can fill us in on?

Luke: At the moment, we’re just focusing on this next tour for Absolva. We want to build a big hype for this and focus really on the shows. Stuff will happen for Absolva again next year – a particular festival in Manchester may happen as well! Everyone can read between the lines there Maybe!! But no, there’s going to be a lot of good stuff coming up and it will be announced very soon, so we’re very excited! Again, it’s going to be Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley; they’re the priorities for the first half of the year and then we’re going to dig into some more Absolva stuff.

Beth: If you were forming a super group, who would your perfect members be?

Luke: OOOh Yes! I’m going to be good at this question because my friend asked me that not too long ago! Is it anybody I can have? (Anybody! Anyone.) Anybody right? Well. Me on bass! Bit biased there, but me on bass. I’d have Tony Iommi on guitar. Glenn Hughes on vocals, ooh, drummer – not thought about that…Oh Mikkey Dee would be a good drummer, from Motorhead, I think that’s a good start for a super group! I suppose I can have another guitarist in there – I’ll have John Schaffer!

Beth: I’d pay good money to see that!

Luke: I think I’d pay good money just to be in the band!! (laughing)

Beth: What’s in your essentials bag for the tour bus?

Luke: No adventurous things. Lots of socks!! Lots of Socks – but I just take general stuff, you know, clothes and everything. I don’t go anywhere without my laptop – that’s my baby!! I always take a little interface with me as well, so I can actually plug my guitar into the interface, into my music program on my laptop, so I can just jam away in the dressing room, or if I’m in a hotel room, or something like that. So, inspiration can spark up anywhere kind of thing. The rider is much better than what I put in my bag actually! Bottles of rum and beers everywhere! That’s more like it!! (laughing)

Beth: What’s the most random thing you’ve ever had on a rider then?

Luke: Well Blaze likes to put a pair of socks on his rider!!! We don’t like doing laundry on tour, you see, so if we get a pair of socks every gig we’re all right!!! There was a funny one, one time; it was something to do with a banana! It had to be chopped in a particular way. The theory behind it was if you put this strange thing on the rider, the tour manager walks into the dressing room and sees that the promoter has done this crazy thing with the rider, he doesn’t need to check everything else because if they have done this really stupid thing, then they must have done all the normal things! That was the theory behind the M&M trick, you know, putting all the green M&Ms in a cup or something. So, yeah, that was probably the weird one with the banana!

Beth: We have seen a couple of instances recently of 80s pop icons singing with metal bands – Kim Wilde with Lawnmower Deth, then last week Rick Astley sung with The Foo Fighters. Who would you pick to sing with you?

Luke: I’m not very good with knowing who’s from which era… erm…. Was Bonnie Tyler from the eighties? Sorry – I’m a baby! Yeah, I’ll say Bonnie Tyler! We played a gig with her once actually, so it was very close to happening! It was cool because we played this festival in Sweden with Iced Earth. It was a very eclectic festival – there was all sorts of stuff going on – so it was Bonnie Tyler and then us!! I didn’t really know how it was going to go, but then all these swarms of metal heads came in after all the Bonnie Tyler fans!! It was quite a sight to see!

Rick: There’s one thing I’d like to ask – I have read about it in the magazine you did with the new Absolva album! Swapping between bass and guitar – how do you find it? I used to drum and it’s all I could do to remember the drum parts sometimes, but you’re going from one band playing bass to another band playing guitar – how do you find it? And I know you get on well with Karl (Bass player in Absolva) but how does the relationship work there?

Luke: Changing in-between the instruments I find quite fun, because it’s good to get a perspective on both sides of what you’re playing. With Absolva, I think it works very well because I do twin lead guitar solos and whatnot with Chris but I’m mainly the rhythm guitar player, so I’m all about staying with the bass and the drums. So, I’m still on the rhythm section page.

My relationship with Karl is very good, we get along really well, we have a lot in common, but we also have this little friendly rivalry going on. If we’re playing an Absolva a song that I demoed and wrote the bassline for, I’ll say, ‘Come on Karl – you need to play this properly!’ and then he will return and say, ‘you may have written the bassline but I improved it!’. So, there’s this little friendly rivalry and jokes going on but it’s all friendly you know – we never start punching each other or anything!! Not maliciously anyway!

But, the swapping between guitar and bass Is fine. I find it very fun. I love playing guitar. I find it a lot easier to write a song on a guitar than I do a bass. However, I prefer playing a bass because I feel like I have a little bit more freedom; improvising with the drums, and whatever fills the drummer does, I feel like I should follow. With a guitar, I believe that you’re a little bit more limited with what you play, because it’s all about the melodies really, and the guitar you can hear playing those melodies a lot more than a bass player would do. As long as I’m staying within the groove of the song, I like to throw in a lot of fills with what the drummer is playing whether that’s Iced Earth, Fury UK, Whatever. The best way of describing it is what John says; I believe the bassist has to be the rock of the band. It needs to be together with the drums and the glue between the drummer and guitar player. That’s the best way of describing it in my opinion because it really is the base of the band – it’s like creating a house; You’ve got your base, then your upper levels and your singer is your roof. I had a comment when I went into the studio with John and I was playing bass and he said, ‘right snap out of guitar mode get into bass mode’! So sometimes I do just have to say, ‘right, okay, I’m playing bass right now’! But I find it fun, more often than not!

Ever Metal: Well that is it Luke. Thanks so much for talking to us today and we are really looking forward to the tour, and hopefully we will get to the Manchester date to come and see you.

Luke: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and we’ll have a beer in Manchester!

The Absolva ‘Defiance’ tour 2017 kicks of next week in Germany and, from listening to the album and knowing how hard these boys work, we can pretty much tell you now with 100% confidence that it is going to be amazing. If you can make one of the dates, do, because we promise you won’t be disappointed!! We would like to thank Luke again for his time talking to us, and wish him and the rest of Absolva immense luck and success for the tour and beyond.

For more information on the Band, the tour, and of course their other bands, Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley, here are the links you need:

Absolva:

Iced Earth:

Blaze Bayley:

Rocksector Records:

Absolva Tour Poster

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities