Pentre Fest 2023 – Day 1

PentreFest 2023 Poster

Pentre Fest 2023 – Day 1
McLeans Pentre, Pentre Deeside
Review by Dani “The Gentleman Of Metal” Maguire

It’s the start of festival season once again! Ok, so it’s a bit early for what most people would truly call ‘festival season’, but for me, it’s the highlight of the calendar; yes, PentreFest was upon us! Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the first day of the fest for personal reasons, but I was asked to give ‘party night’ a review by the lovely Beth, so who am I to refuse?

If you haven’t been to the festivals’ venue, McLeans Pentre, before then do so. It’s a great place for metalheads, with a biker-bar kinda feel. It’s a little off the beaten path but worth it. An old-school vibe, with Wrexham Lager on tap at £3 a pint. Once again, the bar staff entirely underestimated our capacity to drink the place dry, and by the end of the night the bar was looking emptier than a Tories’ heart.

Ok, on with the review. Proceedings kicked off with Manchester/Chester based Metalcore enthusiasts ALEYA, a band which I hadn’t heard of before (always a treat). To be honest, my preconceptions about Aleya were that they were a solo project with a leather-clad lady with a lovely voice singing over a backing track. Not sure why, just what the name suggested to me. But they were actually a bunch of really talented youngsters doing that Modern Metalcore stuff that people seem to like these days.

This is going to sound really ‘gatekeepery’, but to be honest, that sorta music isn’t my sort of thing. Not their fault, I’m from a generation brought up on Maiden and Priest. However, I’ll make an exception for Aleya. They really impressed me. Not sure whether it was the pre-drinking, the general excitement at being out of the house or the energetic audience, but there was something electric about these guys. Alright, they had a little false start, with a guitar not being plugged in correctly (if I remember rightly). But they took it in their stride, and kept the audience amused while the problem was swiftly located and resolved. And they really did need that guitar, because as much as the others in the band smashed it, their guitarist was out of this world. They were bouncing about the place as bands of this type tend to do, playing on the dancefloor at times (when space allowed). A great start to the fest, and I look forward to seeing them again in the Metal 2 The Masses North Wales heats. Good job, lads.

There’s also an outside (acoustic) stage at PentreFest, but it wouldn’t be fair to give it a full review as I was in and out to the bar and talking to people rather than concentrating (sorry), but the times I did venture out, the awesome Edd Case was doing his solo sets. I’m always impressed by Edd, but his haunting version of The Cranberries ‘Zombie’ was a particular highlight. Those who braved the nippy wind were rightly rewarded!

Next up, we had GR/EF. Now, after seeing these fellas at M2TM last year, we all remarked that they would take it to the next level if they brought in a singer. And guess what? They did! And they have! This bunch of modern metallers sound heavy as, and for a band that was second on, it’s testament to them that the crowd stayed put (people tend to drift for drinks, toilet breaks and chats at this time, I find). Now, I’d probably have more to say about them including welcoming the singer, but it feels impersonal not to refer to the band members by name, and they, like Aleya before them, don’t seem to have a bio page anywhere (please sort this, bands. Makes it loads easier for us reviewers!) to explain what their names are and damned if I remember, sorry fellas, too much booze. One thing I will say though is that these guys are focused, skilled, and I get the feeling they are gonna go far.

Our next course was served up by fan-favourites, THRASHATOUILLE. Now, I’ve waxed lyrical about these guys on my old radio show and in previous reviews. Basically, they play some really heavy stuff, which is almost entirely NOT thrash metal, despite the name. They call it ‘Chef Metal’, which doesn’t give much away. But they really are a sight to behold, resplendent in their chef whites and brandishing kitchen implements alongside their instruments. As usual, the crowd was going bonkers, me included. It was a bit chaotic. Spilled drinks in the mosh pit, a disco ball torn from the ceiling, popped inflatable foodstuffs everywhere. Carnage. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love these guys, and have seen them a bunch here in North Wales, but it occurred to me that the inflatables kinda get in the way of the music a bit. The crowd are so busy hitting each other with blow-up ice creams and bouncing into each other wearing doughnuts that the band weren’t getting the attention they deserve. Not wanting to be a party pooper like, but Thrashatouille are a talented bunch, perhaps if they kept the inflatables to themselves for a bit and chucked them out when certain songs required them this would help get people to just enjoy the madness on-stage for a while longer. Whatever. 

Thrashatouille aren’t taking part in this years’ M2TM after last years’ appearance in the finals, and I’m hoping they make the most of the time away to hone their set, write some new tracks (and hopefully record some more – Pulled Apart by Pork and Shepherds Pie Squared are notably absent) and reset for a run at next years’ competition. With other local bands really upping their game in recent years, it’s only going to get harder to win it, but in my opinion, Thrashatouille deserve their slot at Bloodstock on merit. Simon Hall, sign them up for the Sophie Stage on Bloodstock’s party night, you won’t regret it.

Our penultimate band for the night was Apollyon Rising. With the addition of a new singer and bassist, as well as the word ‘Rising’ to their band name, this new-look lineup, fresh off the Hammerfest stage, was ready to rip us a new one. And they did – sort of. Rather expectedly, this is essentially a new band, and they’ll need some work tuning into each other. You can tell they have been working hard behind the scenes, but it’s still early days for this band, and at times it felt kind of disjointed. 

They weren’t exactly a shadow of the slick band who won our region’s M2TM final, but they need a little more work with this new lineup in my opinion. Their best performances were their newer songs – but perhaps it’s just cos I know the older stuff inside out. After all, I’ve been the proud owner of their self-titled debut EP and follow up “Life’s Conclusion” since I was first impressed by these guys over a decade ago. But they really aren’t far off living up to and even surpassing their previous best, so perhaps I’m being too harsh. All I can say is, go and see them live, and listen to their latest recordings because they sound brutal as hell.

And finally, bringing PentreFest’s ‘Party Night’ to a close were a band that I’ve been wanting to see for bloody years, Ward XVI. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our headline act brought a lot of fans with them, dressed in their trademark black and white stripes, reminiscent of popular book ‘The Night Circus’ as well as their intended look, a comic-book style insane asylum. And I wasn’t disappointed, when a show starts off with a 10-foot Papier-Mache creepy model walking through the crowd, you know you’re in for a good time. The aforementioned model was Mr. Babadook, from the poignant opener. And it just got weirder from there. 

There was blood, guts, and meat cleavers aplenty as the band tore through a setlist that included favourites such as ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘Imago’ and ‘Shadows’. After a finale which involved an electric chair (go and see for yourself), the show ended with a rendition of ‘Toy Box’, complete with circus pit. A great way to end a great night. So glad to have finally seen them live, and you should too if you get the chance.

On a personal note, the event was buzzing. Loads of people there this year as it goes from strength to strength. Well-deserved too. It’s a testament to the NEW Metal team that so many people have managed to find their way to this tiny little corner of North Wales. But there’s still room for more, it’s a big place. Also, it was an absolute joy to mix with friends old and new once more, thank you to all those who came and say hi, I’m hoping to see you all again at the M2TM events in Wrexham in the coming weeks and months.

Fozzy, Beanie and the rest of the NEW Metal productions team: that was a triumph, so how are you gonna top that next year? For what it’s worth (nowt) I’d love to see Evil Scarecrow, Jaldaboath, Battle Born, Forlorn Hope (again), Footprints in the Custard (again), Kull and Wytch Hazel. And I will pester you until you book them.

P.s. To nip this in the bud, and without meaning to make this review all about me (but I don’t post often so indulge me), I need to paraphrase Fat Tony from the Simpsons. You see, guys, you have been most vocal on the subject of the radio show. “Where’s the radio show? “When are you going to do another radio show?” “Why aren’t you doing the radio show now?” And so on.

I’m still enjoying having weekends to myself and getting some much-needed time to improve my mental health. So, while I do appreciate that you (and the roadie) want us back on air, we still have no plans to return just yet, if at all. But thanks!




Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dani Maguire 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.

The Bunny, The Bear, w/Cabin Boy Jumped Ship, Rosen Bridge, In Depths, Aleya

The Bunny the Bear Poster

The Bunny, The Bear, w/Cabin Boy Jumped Ship, Rosen Bridge, In Depths, Aleya
Penny Black, Wrexham
Review by Rob Sutton

Wrexham really is starting to feel like a home away from home, so when a gig with bands I used to listen to in college and bands from the local scene I’ve been following for a few years are all on the same bill then its a no brainer! Now The Penny Black has had a good makeover recently and actually feels and looks like a proper venue, but it falls short on a few things, firstly, the toilets are horrific! No locks, no seats, no bog roll and look like they haven’t seen a mop in years. Also, the beer prices are ridiculous, £4.50 for a bottle of beer and the taps being turned off again is frankly daylight robbery! Though if you’re sober like I was then the prices aren’t a huge issue but still… wow!

So first up was Chester / North Wales based Aleya, a band I have put on at gigs before and probably will again. Judging by the amount of fans with their merch on, they also have a good following in Wrexham, this is impressive as they have a fairly sizeable crowd despite being the openers. Now Metalcore is something I seem to come across at nearly every gig I go to, and it can get a bit samey, but Aleya seem to have a bit of a spark about them. Firstly they are stupidly catchy, ‘Losing Sleep’ being one that is still stuck in my head, and secondly because they don’t sound like they’re aiming for the new age Architects style of Metalcore. The riffs are sounding much more melodic and tonight are played fantastically, not to mention both clean and screamed vocals being on point for the most part. Though towards the end of the set the cleans really started to suffer and there were a lot of missed notes and he did sound out of breath. Saying that, their energy tonight was stunning, they were a fantastic opener and hopefully should get a fair few more gigs with performances like this. Oh, I would recommend a wireless mic as he does like to wander.

In Depths are a band I don’t think I have reviewed before, though I have seen and played with these guys many times. First up these guys do stand out on this bill, with the focus being on Metalcore and Electronic In Depths bring pure brutality by the bucket load! Their cross between Beat Down and Deathcore is quite a mix and leads to a sound that is so ungodly heavy it makes thunder sound like a knock on the door. Now the last few times I have seen them, technical issues have really let them down but there is nothing of the sort tonight apart from the odd bit of feedback, instead the crowd are met with a well-oiled machine that just flicks from one song to another effortlessly, the use of backing tracks really work a treat for this! Honestly, I have never seen these guys perform to such a high standard, the aggression and precision is just to die for and the whole set I’m just stood in awe! Honestly this was brutal on another level!

Third up on this monster bill is another one of my personal favourites Rosen Bridge and after the onslaught before them it was back to the Metalcore theme of the night but with a bit more of a Djenty twist. Now I can bang on about how much I love what these guys do and the fact that I was singing along to a good half the set probably is a big giveaway to how much I enjoyed them. Though I’ll try and put my biased aside, to start the vocals were a little quiet, which really hampers these guys as they are a massive focal point of the band but by the second track the levels are much better. 

As with In Depths, Rosen Bridge performed absolutely on point, tight as a drum, tons of energy and fantastic crowd engagement. This time I find myself more drawn to the drums, they are absolutely ballistic tonight, so much power and speed all in the right places, he is honestly top of his game tonight! Now it also wouldn’t be a Rosen Bridge review without a comment on the singer Alex’s dance moves, if you haven’t seen them, they are quite a sight during a Metal performance. All in all Rosen Bridge did what they always do, put a massive smile on my face so nothing else matters. Oh and extra points for dedicating ‘Watchers’ to me and giving a shout out to Thrashatouille! That’s one way to butter up a reviewer!

Filling the roll of main support this evening is Cabin Boy Jumped ship, a band that have been around a fair while now and before this tour hadn’t gigs prior to the world ending. Their sound had initially started out as proper Electronic Metalcore, but has evolved to a slightly more modern sound while still retaining their roots. This I am a fan of as I have said prior, I’ve seen a lot of Metalcore bands recently and this means CBJS stand out to me. 

These guys hit the stage and unleash carnage on the crowd of Wrexham and truly raise the standard to a new level. The whole performance is slick, tight and just a pleasure to watch! Now normally I would say there is way too much reliance on the backing tracks during the set as a lot of vocals and guitars are also thrown in as well as the Dance beat, but in this rare circumstance, it works and that is primarily down to the genre they play. It is supposed to sound over mixed and the fact the whole band remain beautifully in time throughout makes this all the better. Again, I find myself drawn to the drummer as this time he is the one providing the clean backing vocals and does so perfectly. The fact that CBJS blend so many genres, from Metal to Rap to Dance truly sets these guys apart and dare I say this… this was one of my top performances of the year so far so naturally, that’s another T-shirt to my collection!

Back in the good old days a very young Rob stumbled across a band called The Bunny, The Bear and immediately fell in love with their unique crossover sound and catchy choruses. So, when he found out they were playing Wrexham he instantly messaged the main lady of Ever Metal asking if he could review this (thank you Beth). So, as you can tell I was excited! Starting off TBTB let their backing band showcase their normal music which was a really nice touch, albeit a tad off-genre for the night but still I like this! 

What I wasn’t much of a fan of was the bassist wandering around asking everyone if they could hear him, mate, speak to the sound tech! Though this would have been pointless as I shall explain later. Kicking off TBTB set was my personal favourite ‘Aisle’ this song really took me back and the voices matched exactly what I envisioned them to sound like live so, of course I was singing along. After this though is where, and there is no other way of putting this, it all goes to shit! That bassist I mentioned decided again to spend his time in the crowd and thus hit the deck and broke his bass leaving us with no bass for the rest of the set. I later find out that he had twisted his ankle at a previous show and had spent most of the evening downstairs getting drunk. Honestly, I hope they weren’t paying him as this frankly was the single least professional thing I have ever seen from a band especially a touring one of this calibre. 

Sadly, from there the rest of the set just ended up messy and all over the place, nothing seemed to fit together properly, no one looked like they wanted to perform on the night and most of the crowd had buggered off. It just looked so amateur, like a group of mates had got together, never practiced and decided to do a gig. Don’t get me wrong the sound was far from ideal for them and they did have numerous issues with the mics but this does not hide the fact that this was an absolute joke of a set. I really like this band and will still listen to them online but I can’t justify spending money to watch people prat around on stage and be too pissed to even play. No thanks!

Aside from my disappointment with the headliners, this was a really good show, the rest of the bands brought their ‘A’ game and I truly loved all of them, the venue does need work and also a centre monitor (many vocalists mentioned this) but that is a small issue in what can only be described as a fantastic evening!




Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton 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.

Sertraline w/Dreameater, Lost In Lavender Town and Aleya The Bread Shed, Manchester

Sertraline at the Bread Shed Manchester poster

w/Dreameater, Lost In Lavender Town and Aleya
The Bread Shed, Manchester
Review by Rob Sutton

I’m in Manchester again and I’m sure my body is beginning to suffer with all the gigs this month, but, after no gigs for a whole year I’m making up for it. Tonight’s line-up is on the progressive/Djenty side and at a venue I have come to love, The Bread Shed. Normally at this point I’ll bang on about lavatories and beer, the toilets are fine but there is not enough beer behind the bar, in fact nearly everything on tap is off?! Oh well sober it is!!

First on is Chester/Manchester based Aleya, a post-hardcore, modern metal band. It seems there are a lot of bands in this genre at the moment, so in the underground, a band needs to stand out. For me it is the guitarist, with a smattering of gorgeous solos thrown into nearly every song and are a pleasure to listen to, that gets my attention. Sadly, the sound for these guys is not the best and while the drums were also clear, the bass and vocals did get lost in the mix. This is a shame as the front man has a cracking range from what I’ve heard on Spotify but I just couldn’t hear much of him. I think, due to this, the crowd did struggle to engage with them which in turn led to a bit of a static show on stage baring the occasional bounce from the vocalist. I don’t want to say this was a bad set or that there was much wrong with it but I just couldn’t hear everything clear enough to form a good opinion.

So, for anyone that knows me, they will know instrumental bands really don’t do much for me, I always think to myself ‘when are the vocals going to kick in.’ This was not the case with Stoke based Lost In Lavender Town. Their sheer talent while playing is simply sublime! So many obscure beats for you to attempt to bang your head to along with beautiful harmonies to lose yourself in. I found myself thoroughly enjoying them and now completely understand why these guys won the Stoke M2TM a few years ago. This was all helped by the sound quality being so much better for them. It was easy to pick out each instrument and really enjoy the talent on display.

Things take a heavy turn for main support band Dreameater, the whole room seemed to spark into life with their opening track and heads were away banging. These guys are brutally heavy and loud. I love it! It’s breakdown after breakdown with hints of hardcore thrown in for good measure. These boys, despite only being a 4 piece, truly owned the stage, in some cases even hardcore dancing on stage and the crowd loved every single minute of it! A personal highlight from the set was when the genre completely switches to almost rap (yes he was scream rapping). This really marked them out for me. The ability to throw other influences in while still retaining their sound really kept you hooked. These boys are heavy, exciting and downright brutal! More please!

Last up and, who appear to be, a fan favourite of the evening is Sertraline, a band that would normally be a five piece but seem to be a bassist down. Sadly, this showed throughout the set as there was very little low end and also not helped by the sledgehammer before them. Never the less, their take on the prog genre is very enjoyable. There are some fantastic riffs and solos which are executed beautifully and with a massive smile on their collective faces, yes I don’t think either guitarists stopped smiling for the whole set and made everyone in the room seem like they didn’t have a care in the world. This is also helped by vocalist Lizzie’s enthusiasm and charisma on stage (pretty sure she was smiling for the full set too). She seemed completely in her element with the crowd singing back to her during almost every song. I can completely see why they have such a following and are playing Download next year and can’t wait to see what is to come from them, especially after hearing two of their new songs. However, there is a bit of a down side to the future as Lizzie has announced that this is her last tour before she leaves the band. Hers are huge boots to fill and I really hope her replacement can live up to the standards she has set. I look forward to it.

So, an impromptu gig on a Thursday, I enjoyed some serious talent and an instrumental band which is a first. It was a shame there wasn’t a bigger turnout, more beer on tap and the sound wasn’t great for some of the bands but it was an evening showcasing some serious UK talent and many more bands to see again!


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton 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.