Sergeant Thunderhoof – This Sceptred Veil

This Sceptred Veil Album Cover Artwork

Sergeant Thunderhoof – This Sceptred Veil
Pale Wizard Records
Release Date: 03/06/2022
Running Time: 01:09:00
Review by Alun Jones
9.5/10

OK: so for once, I’m kinda stuck for words. How do I tackle this album, the new offering from Sergeant Thunderhoof? I mean, we can go through a song-by-song overview; try to describe the listening experience for the reader, make comparisons to other bands in a lame attempt to get the message across. But what I really need – or want – to do, is SELL it. Because I care about you, Ever Metal readers, and I don’t want you to miss out. “This Sceptred Veil” is a fantastic record.

Our opening song ‘You’ve Stolen the Words’ lays Sergeant Thunderhoof’s wares out on the table from the off. A mammoth, heavy riff erupts from the speakers and drags the listener along like a tin can in a hurricane. This is a big sound. Mark Sayers guitars are momentous, epic on a biblical scale. Comparisons to Soundgarden are obvious but apt, particularly considering the Olympian vocals of Daniel Flitcroft, soaring on every song.

If I was gonna make more lazy comparisons, there’s a hint of spacey Monster Magnet raunch on ‘King Beyond the Gates’ and maybe even some Maiden gallop on the ‘Show Don’t Tell’. Both tracks testify that the rhythm section – Jim Camp on bass and Darren Ashman on drums – have the skills to rev the engine as well as groove along on the more cerebral tracks.

Speaking of the cerebral, it’s the lengthy Prog work outs that differentiate Thunderhoof from other similar artists. As much as I love the rockin’ numbers (shout out too for ‘Devil’s Daughter’), these guys are extremely comfortable wandering into the realms where Mastodon rule. Witness ‘Avon and Avalon’ Parts I and II: two tracks that, whilst not exactly mellow, certainly take their time to explore and build a musical soundscape. It’s thrilling.

Running at around the 69 minute mark, there is a lot to discover here. You’re going to need to devote some time to this baby, but don’t fret – you’ll be massively rewarded if you do. So please forgive the hard sell. I only mention similar bands in an attempt to reach out to fans who I know will dig this, too. Sergeant Thunderhoof have created a superb album in “This Sceptred Veil” – one of the best of the year, so far. Don’t miss it. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. You’ve Stolen The Words
02. Devil’s Daughter
03. Absolute Blue
04. Foreigner
05. Woman Call
06. King Beyond The Gates
07. Show Don’t Tell
08. Avon & Avalon Part I
09. Avon & Avalon Part II

LINE-UP:
Jim Camp – Bass
Darren Ashman – Drums
Mark Sayer – Guitars
Dan Flitcroft – Vocals

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader Reissues

UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader Reissues
Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records
Release Date: XXIV10/06/2022
Yellow Leader08/07/2022
Running time: 38:00/ 52:00
Review by Alun Jones
XXIV:9/10
Yellow Leader: 8.5/10

Recap time: regular readers may remember that yours truly recently reviewed the re-issue of “Work in Progress” by punk veterans UK Subs.  You may also recall that that album covered the letter W in the bands ongoing mission to release an album for every letter of the alphabet.  Well, the good news is that Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records are also releasing the next two instalments in the series – that’s the letters X and Y (but you knew that).

Working through chronologically, we have “XXIV” – which the lovely record company peeps have released on drool-worthy double 10” vinyl, one green, one clear.  Yummy.  Our first song is an absolute belter: the full-on turbo romp ‘Implosion 77’.  Hold on tight and buckle up!  There’s plenty more fast’n’nasty thrills on offer too: ‘Speed’ has a merciless UK82 vibe; ‘Monkeys’ has a classic Subs singalong chorus; ‘Garden of Good & Evil’ is another pogo-till-your-pants-fall-off rocker.

There’s some well-placed variety too, with the harmonica adorned political thrust of ‘Coalition Government Blues’, and Bo Diddley swagger of ‘Wreckin’ Ball’ – both showing hints of the bands R’n’B origins (like as in, what R’n’B used to be).  Lyrically there are plenty of targets for Charlie to attack, both politically and socially.  ‘Memento Mori’ finishes the album off with one most aggressive tunes on offer, leaving us with a great album of 14 adrenaline infused songs.

“Yellow Leader” follows in a similar fashion, featuring 18 songs (whereas the original vinyl was cut to just 14 due to running times).  To be released on slinky, divine double 10” vinyl (one red, one turquoise here), it’ll be a feast for the eyes and ears.  Again, the album is crammed with more relentless Punk Rock shenanigans like ‘Sick Velveteen’, ‘Chemical’ and ‘Heathens’, all of which will have you jumping around the room like a monkey on a lava stream.

As with the previous record, there’s plenty of other sounds and ideas here. The single ‘Sin City Blues’ has a killer rockabilly feel, and ‘Rebellion Song’ breaks out the acoustic guitar.  The only mis-step is ‘Archaeology’, a strange Post -Punk/ Goth style experiment that, while not awful, isn’t a total success.  All in all, the quality of music is impressively high and the recordings sound excellent.

And there you go, music lovers! Not one, but TWO albums of mighty UK Subs songs, lovingly compiled and curated by those nice folks at Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records.  You lucky people.  Pick ‘em up while you can, nobody is this fortunate twice.    

TRACKLISTING:

XXIV:
01. Implosion 77 
02. Coalition Government Blues 
03. Speed 
04. Rabid 
05. Monkeys 
06. Black Power Salute 
07. Las Vegas Wedding 
08. Stare At The Sun  
09. Garden Of Good And Evil 
10. Workers Revolution 
11. Wreckin’ Ball 
12. Detox 
13. Failed State 
14. Momento Mori 
15. Workers Beer Company

Yellow Leader:
01. Sick Velveteen 
02. Artificial 
03. Bordeaux Red 
04. Chemical 
05. Deconstruct 
06. Diatribe 
07. Feed The Whore 
08. Heathens 
09. Prime Evil 
10. Rebellion Song 
11. Sin City Blues 
12. Slave 
13. Big Bug 
14. Suicidal Girl 
15. Virus 
16. Cry Wolf 
17. Archaeology 
18. 611

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Fourteenth Trip

Brown Acid The Fourteenth Trip Album Cover Art

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Fourteenth Trip
RidingEasy Records
Release date: 20/04/2022
Running time: 34:00
Review by Alun Jones
7.5/10

Well, that’s it, it’s over – I thought to myself on first perusing this latest entry in the Brown Acid series.  The well has finally run dry.  The RidingEasy Records archaeologists have eventually reached the end of their previously rich vein of rare, obscure and undiscovered proto-metal and vintage hard rock.  How had I arrived at this conclusion?  There are only eight songs, compared to the usual ten; with a running time of just 26 minutes.  

Then I realised that the final track, an 8-minute-long number by a band called Raven, was missing from the press review download I had.  So that extra track would even things out nicely, with a decent longer running time.  Though I wouldn’t be able to review every song, at least the existential crisis of NO MORE ROCK had been avoided!

Volume 14 starts of with the great ‘Fever Games’ by The Legends: it’s a rampant, rollicking late 60’s ode to Blue Cheer, Hendrix and Cream.  Despite aping Jimi a little too closely, this song is a lively opener.  Next up is Mijal & White with ‘I’ve Been You’.  This track sounds like the Monkees cutting a particularly noisy song by The Who, which should encourage you to definitely give it a whirl on your gramophone.  

I don’t know who Henry is, but thanks to the chunky blues rock of Liquid Blue, I know that ‘Henry Can’t Drive’.  This is a more traditional heavy rock number, and as an album highlight it keeps the engine speeding along on a straight track.  There’s a fast rock’n’roll MC5 vibe to ‘Signs’ by San Francisco Trolly Co. This energetic song is followed by Blue Creed’s ‘Need a Friend’, a raw and rough brawler.  It’s a contrast to ‘Play It Cool’ by Transfer, which reminds me of a revved-up surf track.  

‘You’re Not the Only Girl (I’m Out to Get)’ by Appletree finally ushers in some much-needed cowbell.  Reminiscent of Grand Funk Railroad and – gasp – even early Kiss, it’s another quality highlight.  Ideal for playing in an old, rusty’n’trusty Camaro.

Cox’s Army gives us another Hendrix inspired number with ‘I’m Tired’, which bops along in a true groovy manner.  And that, for me, is my last track on my version of “Brown Acid: The Fourteenth Trip”, though as mentioned above, there is another song called

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Legends – Fever Games
02. Mijal & White – I’ve Been You
03. Liquid Blue – Henry Can’t Drive
04. San Francisco Trolley Co – Signs
05. Blue Creed – Need a Friend
06. Transfer – Play it Cool 
07. Appletree – You’re Not the Only Girl (I’m Out to Get)
08. Cox’s Army – I’m Tired
09. Raven – Back to Ohio Blues

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

Toyah – Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! (2021 Remaster)

Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! Album Cover Art

Toyah – Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! (2021 Remaster)
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 13/05/2022
Running Time: 1:01:00
Review by Alun Jones
8.5/10

Now, your first question may well be: “How did Platinum Al manage to slip a Toyah review onto a Rock / Metal website?” Well, dear reader, let me tell you a story. The first time I ever saw Toyah live was at a local club, where the dynamic lady herself was backed by the mighty Girlschool. All of these fearsome females put on an explosive show, comprising of ultra-rocked-up originals from both artists and Classic Rock covers. So yes, Toyah is more Rock ’N’ Roll than you (or I) will ever be.

To be fair, despite her Pop pedigree, Toyah Willcox has always been more Bowie than Kylie. And on this reissue of the 1980 live album, Cherry Red have presented us with a vibrant – even, dare I say it, rocking – bunch of Post Punk songs that show Toyah and her band in full flight. The expanded deluxe CD set is packaged with a DVD featuring a contemporary documentary. For this review though, we’re focussing purely on the music.

Happily, the production is top notch. Remastered by Nick Watson from the original master tapes, the sound is formidable. The instruments come through crisp and clear and the vocals are excellent, as shown on ‘Victims of the Riddle’ where keyboards maintain a steady melody while lead guitar erupts with energy. Likewise, bass and drums shine on ‘Love Me’ – it’s particularly impressive considering we’re dealing with a 40-year-old live album.

Highlights on “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” include ‘Bird in Flight’, ‘Danced’ (which reminded me of the Skids) and the occult war chant of ‘Ieya’. Never truly dark enough to be Goth, the songs here are more “Scary Monsters” with a generous helping of Hawkwind Space Rock, especially on ‘Race Through Space’.

Through it all, Toyah’s one-of-a-kind voice soars. Toyah has never stopped writing and performing music, acting, presenting and so on; these days she’s famous for her lockdown YouTube videos performing kitchen-based Rock covers with husband, King Crimson legend, Robert Fripp. It’s great to hear “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” remastered and in pristine condition. Even speaking as a vinyl purist, it looks like my ancient vinyl copy has had its day. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Victims Of The Riddle 
02. Indecision 
03. Love Me 
04. Vision 
05. Bird In Flight 
06. Tribal Look 
07. Danced 
08. Insects 
09. Race Through Space 
10. Ieya Bonus Tracks 
11. Ghosts 
12. Neon Womb (Unedited) 
13. She 
14. Danced (Encore Version)

LINE-UP:
Toyah Willcox – Vocals & Noises
Joel Bogen – Guitar
Peter Bush – Keyboards
Charlie Francis – Bass
Steve Bray – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

UK Subs – Work in Progress

UK Subs – Work in Progress (Reissue)
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 22/04/2022
Running Time: 41 minutes
Review by Alun Jones
9/10

Ladies and gentlemen: the UK Subs. A fine collective of upstanding, noble samurai and no mistake. Led by the indomitable Charlie Harper, the band have roots stretching right back to the origin of the London Punk scene (and actually, a fair bit further than that). The band are still touring and recording all this time later, albeit with changing line ups throughout the years, so their integrity and passion should never be in any doubt. 

Casual observers may not be aware that the UK Subs have released an album for every letter of the alphabet (plus more). That’s no mean feat. What is somewhat daunting, is that’s a lot for any new fans who want to collect everyone of those releases! Yet fear not, music lovers: Cherry Red records have been gracious enough to re-release the 2011 album “Work in Progress”, on sexy double 10” gold and silver vinyl. For anyone struggling to keep up, that means the punters have no excuse to at least have the letter W from the list in the bag.

And what will discerning music fans find within this sumptuous collection? Why, fourteen songs of the finest punk rock vintage, of course. That means a blitzkrieg of blinding rockers like ‘Creation’, ‘Radio Unfriendly’ and the brilliantly titled ‘Hell is Other People’. Some bloke called Lars Frederickson, from a band called Rancid, co-wrote ‘This Chaos’ – another brain-melter – and you can even bang your head to ‘Children of the Flood’, if you want to.

Punk Rock unbelievers, I say unto thee: these songs do not all sound the same. They are not simply constructed, amateur-hour noise. All the tracks are full of energy and have their own identity. There’s a hint of Rockabilly on ‘Eighteen Wheels’, R&B Garage Rock on the bouncy Sonics cover ‘Strychnine’ and ‘All Blurs into One’ has an almost Psychedelic sheen. 

The only potential misfires are ‘Tokyo Rose’, which at first sounds a bit too Hollywood Sunset Strip (but redeems itself after a few listens) and ‘Rock’n’Roll Whore’, which could be a bit – well, dated lyrically.

This UK Subs album admirably highlights a classic band who are still fighting on, taking their music to the world. It shows the roots of the band in R&B, whilst also providing a link from the Ramones to US Hardcore bands like Circle Jerks and Descendents, and ever onwards. After all these years, the UK Subs are still a “Work in Progress” and show no signs of stopping.

Right, see you later. I’m off to hang around in a graveyard with my old mate Dave Vanian. Captain and Rat, you can only come if you promise to stop setting fire to mattresses.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Creation 
02. Tokyo Rose 
03. Hell Is Other People 
04. The Axe 
05. Radio Unfriendly 
06. This Chaos 
07. Guru 
08. Eighteen Wheels 
09. Children Of The Flood 
10. All Blurs Into One 
11. Blood 
12. Rock N Roll Whore 
13. Strychnine 
14. Robot Age 

LINE-UP:
Charlie Harper – Vocals
Jamie Oliver – Drums
Alvin Gibbs – Bass
Jet 13 – Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

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.

Trouble – One For The Road/Unplugged

One For The Road Unplugged Double Album Cover Art

Trouble – One For The Road/Unplugged
Hammerheart Records
Release Date: 11/02/2022
Running Time: 67:00
Review by Alun Jones
9/10

The mighty Trouble! A release from these titans of Doom Metal is always worth celebration, and this is no exception. Back in the early 90’s, this cult band were verged on the edge of a mainstream breakthrough, with two albums on the Rick Rubin helmed Def American Records (also home to Slayer, Danzig, Black Crowes and others). Alas, it was not to be – this eternal underground favourite was to remain just that. “One for the Road” followed the second, self-titled Def American album, as a limited-edition European tour EP. This re-release bundles that with a full length “Unplugged” album – remastered to provide a fully upgraded compilation.

The first five songs comprise that “One for the Road” EP, with first track ‘Goin’ Home’ bursting from the speakers with exactly the kind of exciting Hard Rock you’d expect as a Trouble opener. ‘Window Pain’ offers a pulsating, mid paced Doom rocker, whilst ‘Requiem’ brings the tempo down further with a melancholy, gloomy Metal dirge. The Black Sabbath influence is most obvious on ‘Another Day’, whilst ‘Doom Box’ raises the tempo a little but still holds a candle to Dio era Sabs. Some of these songs would turn up in different forms on later albums, but this EP brings together an excellent capsule that fits neatly into that mid 90’s period.

Back in the early / mid 90’s, “unplugged” albums were all the rage. Like others of that era, this Trouble entry into that genre isn’t always stripped down totally to just vocals and acoustic guitar: there’s still electric guitar, drums and more to embellish the tracks where necessary. The strings added to this second version of ‘Requiem’ are exceptionally orchestrated and serve the mood of the piece brilliantly. That said, ‘7.00 AM’ is a remarkably restrained and beautiful song, recalling Sabbath and also Trouble worshippers Soundgarden. 

Those songs – and the other tracks comprising the “Unplugged” part of this release, offer a relaxed side of the band that explores more of their Psychedelic, sixties interests (see their cover of The Yardbirds’ ‘Heartful of Soul’). It’s a release that even my eleven-year-old daughter appreciated. The only mis-step is the jaunty jig of ‘Smile’, which is just too jangly and nice. Yet have no fear, the version of ‘Misery’ showcased here (released as ‘The Misery Shows’ on the eponymous Def American release) reminds us just how great this band were. 

My only major issue is the cover art. That may seem petty when this is a review of the band’s music, but as a long-term Trouble fan, I’m considering buying the vinyl copy for my collection. And that vile cover may well deter me from doing so. Trouble has a great logo, but the cover squanders this with nothing other than the title, in what looks like – GASP! – Comic Sans MS! A font that should only be used by primary school teaching assistants, it dates and also ridicules the stature of the music. It’s a truly vile and lazy cover – seemingly thrown together by a Johnny-No-Stars work experience boy on his lunch break. Awful. Couldn’t someone have redesigned it?

I’m docking points for that, ‘cos the cover mocks all I hold holy. Beyond that, fantastic music and a must for any Trouble fan.

RIP Eric Wagner.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Goin’ Home
02. Window Pain
03. Requiem
04. Another Day
05. Doom Box
06. 7.00 am (Unplugged)
07. Rain (Unplugged)
08. Flowers (Unplugged)
09. Requiem (Unplugged)
10. Smile (Unplugged)
11. Misery (Unplugged)
12. Mythic Hero (Unplugged)
13. Waiting for the Sun (Unplugged)
14. Fly (Unplugged)
15. Heartful of Soul (Unplugged)

LINE-UP:
Rick Wartell – Guitars 
Bruce Franklin – Guitars 
Kyle Thomas – Vocals 
Mark Lira – Drums
Rob Hultz – Bass

LINKS:

Trouble Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

Various Artists – Scrap Metal Vol 1

Scrap Metal Volume 1 Album Cover Art

Various Artists – Scrap Metal Vol 1
RidingEasy Records
Release Date: 12/11/221
Running Time: 33:18
Review by Alun Jones
9/10

Recently I’ve been razzing around this rundown town in Platinum Al’s Pimp Mobile (a 1980 Chrysler Cordoba, of course), blasting out this new compilation from those hard rockin’ duderinos at RidingEasy records.  And I haven’t had this much honest-to-rockness fun in goddamn ages!

You may recall RidingEasy’s previous comps, as reviewed by yours truly, from their Brown Acid collections of long lost proto-metal/stoner rock artefacts of the late 60s/early 70s.  Well, with Scrap Metal, they’ve taken the same approach (unearthing long-forgotten rare tracks, and releasing a carefully restored sonic document of said tunes) – but this time, applied it to the age of 70s/80s classic Heavy Metal.  

Listeners will discover a variety of styles of HM here, as the genre splits into numerous offshoots.  So, we get to hear the blossoming styles of NWOBHM, Thrash, Doom and Glam at a time when they all still shared a generous amount of DNA.  It’s Classic Metal, folks – and to be honest, I didn’t find that much difference between the “styles” on offer.  What I did find was ten blinding tracks of fun (and slightly dumb) Rock’n’Roll monsters.

Witness, for example, the wonder of ‘Headbang’ by Rapid Tears.  Fast paced, dumb ass, dingus brained Heavy Rock for you to race to the chippy in a Trans-Am.  It’s glorious.  Then, with barely a rest, we’re assaulted by Air Raid’s ‘69 in a 55’: like early Maiden (even down to the Paul Di’Anno vocals) but with a cucumber stuffed down the spandex pants.

And the surprises keep on coming.  Hades are simply brilliant, their track ‘Girls Will Be Girls’ venturing toward speed metal. Resless have a crap name, but ‘The Power’ is a Priest like power-thon that is bound to excite. ‘Enemy Ace’, by The Beast, is a definite unrefined highlight; almost in the realms of crossover, it’s a particularly aggressive track that’s totally unsuitable for polite tea parties with grandma.

The compilation isn’t perfect: Don Cappa’s ‘Steel City Metal’ ticks all the cliché boxes, but plods. Yet adrenaline infused, urgent rockers like ‘Can’t Stop’ by Dead Silence, ‘Iron Curtain’ by Czar and ‘Viking Queen’ by Real Steel keep the fists punching the air and a grin on the face.    

As with the Brown Acid series, it’s bewildering how at least some of the bands on “Scrap Metal Vol 1” didn’t get any further.  I’ve heard a lot worse.  However, careers are built on consistently great songwriting and performance – we only have one (admittedly brilliant) song by each band to testify here.

The lyrics and themes may wallow in the murky depths of the tired and obvious, but I challenge any of you to not enjoy the music on offer.  Park any pretences of sophistication you may hold, the energy to be heard on these tracks is pure pleasure.  Pull on your super tight jeans, bullet belt and patch covered battle vest, let your hair down (if you still can), and rejoice in a simpler time.  “Scrap Metal Vol 1” is a full on, beer swilling triumph of an album.  HEADBANG!!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Rapid Tears – Headbang
02. Air Raid – 69 in a 55
03. Hades – Girls Will Be Girls
04. Resless – The Power
05. Don Cappa – Steel City Metal
06. The Beast – Enemy Ace
07. Dead Silence – Can’t Stop
08. Hazardous Waste – Danger Zone
09. Czar – Iron Curtain
10. Real Steel – Viking Queen

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

Wax Mekanix / Troll Teeth – Blunt (Split EP)

Blunt EP Cover Art

Wax Mekanix / Troll Teeth – Blunt (Split EP)
Electric Talon Records
Release Date: 22/10/2021
Running Time: 14.32

Review by Alun Jones
9/10

Now the good folks at Electric Talon Records issued this split EP back in October last year, so yet again, apologies for my tardiness. I’ll think of an excuse by the end of this review. For now, let’s just cover some basic info: two bands, namely Troll Teeth and Wax Mekanix, with five songs split between them. Style-wise, we’re in for a journey – so stay sharp.

Wax Mekanix is an artist I’m already familiar with from his exceptional ‘Mobocracy’ album from 2020. That record covered a wide base genre wise, from hard rock to folky guitar and any number of surprises in between. Wax hasn’t stood still, instead deciding to venture into yet newer fields with the three tracks shared here. So first up we get ‘Head’, an enticing blend of acoustic guitar, tribal drums and percussion, plus rowdy vocals. There’s no ferocious riffage here, but the infectious rhythms and Eastern sounding chords will drag any listener along.

‘Manchester Strawberry Blonde’ is a short interlude, with almost Native American percussion, augmented with lyrics that recount a despairingly tragic incident. The lyrics on all tracks are worth a read, particularly here. Wax’s final offering is ‘Freak Boutique’, where the mellow acoustic guitar is embellished again with Eastern rhythms. As a result, this is less campfire singalong and more a voyage across exotic lands.  

Troll Teeth have the best band name I’ve heard in years. Thankfully, they can also deliver some righteous music too. ‘The Pigs are on Parade Today’ has a dense, mid-paced stoner rock approach that is instantly cinematic: perfectly appropriate for watching vast desert skies growing dark and the heavens lighting up. ‘Barbs on a Wire’ is more aggressive, but still retains a sense of melody along with the rolling, raucous riff. It’s progressive in the best sense of the word and also addictive with its relentless, undulating drive and fiery lead guitar. If you dig Baroness, you’ll dig this. 

At first listen, the two bands here seem somewhat different – but it becomes obvious that they’re tied together by their expansive, wide view of the world – and its sounds. Wax Mekanix and Troll Teeth are both visionaries. Here’s to hearing a new full length from each, soon.

What was that? What was my excuse for this review being so late? Well, ah … I had completed it ages ago, honest, but Ozzy Osbourne ate it.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Head (Wax Mekanix) 
02. Manchester Strawberry Blonde (Wax Mekanix) 
03. Freak Boutique (Wax Mekanix)
04. The Pigs Are on Parade Today (Troll Teeth)
05. Barbs on a Wire (Troll Teeth) 

LINKS WAX MEKANIX:

LINKS TROLL TEETH: 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Thirteenth Trip

Brown Acid: The Thirteenth Trip Album Cover Art

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Thirteenth Trip
RidingEasy Records
Release date: 31/10/2021
Running time: 34:49

Review by: Alun Jones
8.5/10

Back in early 1970, I was in LA working for Jim Morrison, singer of the Doors.  Morrison was a pretentious, drunken bore – but we did have a few old laughs.  This one time, Jimbo was mid-liaison with a young lady in her upstairs apartment, and I had to pick him up in his new car before the pair were interrupted by her husband.  Parked in a gleaming white Dodge Challenger under the first-floor window, there was no fire escape and Jim had to jump out of the window onto the roof of his car.  It was a hard top, not a cabriolet, and Jim’s fat arse flattened it like an egg box when he hit it.  He wasn’t in the best shape at that point.  Wrecked that beautiful car, too.  Luckily, I could still see out of the window, and drove off in hysterics, while chubby Jim tried to squeeze into his tiny leather trousers. 

Great days, indeed.  And the memories of that time always come flooding back when I spin one of these Brown Acid compilations from RidingEasy Records.  Yet again, the guys have dug out some long-lost treasures of the early Hard Rock and Proto Metal variety, to return phoenix like from the netherworld.

Things get underway splendidly with ‘Run Run’ by Max, a funky riff rocker that will light up your lava lamp straight away.  It’s probably my favourite on another strong collection.  Next is ‘Dark Street’ by Ralph Williams and the Wright Brothers – fuzzy guitars and great vocal melodies with a faint air of menace.  Geyda provide ‘Third Side’, another pacey rocker, reminiscent of the MC5.

Following that, there’s Gary Del Vecchio, who’s apparently ‘Buzzin’.  But then, who wasn’t in those days?!  It’s party time Blues Rock in the vein of early Zep.  John Kitko is suffering from ‘Indecision’, as proven by the Psychedelic jam of the start contrasting with the speedy, aggressive main body of the song – with Alice Cooper-like vocals.    

‘Hope’ by Bacchus reminded me of old Jimbo’s band doing ‘Roadhouse Blues’.  Master Danse are up next with a very heavy blues number, ‘Feelin’ Dead’.  It’s a slow, ponderous song with a melancholy vibe – which I’ll swear was stolen by The Cult for their obscure B-side ‘Wolf Child’s Blues’.

Orchid offer up the weakest track on the album, ‘Go Big Red’, a fairly unexceptional Garage Rock number.  It’s fun and still has some charm, though.  Then you’ve got Dry Ice and ‘Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky’, a crazy fast paced number that’s like The Monkees and Jimi Hendrix jamming a Eurovision novelty song.  On drugs.  Finally, a strong final track from Good Humore, ‘Detroit’ – a catchy tribute with a sprinkling of MC5 at their most Rock ‘n’ Roll.

And there we have it: another fine collection of Rock fossils unearthed and displayed for our enjoyment, never to be forgotten again.  It may be “The Thirteenth Trip”, but this ain’t unlucky for some – it’s gold all the way.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Max – ‘Run Run’
02. Ralph Williams – ‘Dark Street’
03. Geyda – ‘Third Side’
04. Gary Del Vecchio – ‘Buzzin’’
05. John Kitko – ‘Indecision’
06. Bacchus – ‘Hope’
07. Master Danse – ‘Feelin’ Dead’
08. Orchid – ‘Go Big Red’
09. Dry Ice – ‘Don’t Munkey With The Funky Skunky’
10. Good Humore – ‘Detroit’

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.