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.

Simon’s Top Ten Releases of 2021

Simon’s Top Ten Releases of 2021
By Simon Black

Beth here! There’s always one awkward bugger on every team isn’t there. And here at Ever Metal it’s our Simon (we love him though, so it’s ok)! He’s done his Top Ten a little differently, because he simply couldn’t pick his favourite – so well done to all on the list, you’re all joint first place! Enjoy Simon’s words of wisdom…

Happy Christmas you crazy bunch! First off, here are my journo statistics for 2021 first:

Albums Reviewed: 225
Web Sites Contributed To: 2
Live Gigs / Festivals Attended: 1 (just don’t, OK?)
Live Streams Watched: 4
Interviews conducted: 2
Pints of Beer Consumed: I’ve no idea, but there are countries out there with smaller I am sure…

There goes the year when everything didn’t quite get back to normal, but we’re getting there, aren’t we? OK, maybe not with yet another variant unexpectedly teaching us more of the Greek alphabet just when we thought that the end was in sight. Whatever your personal experiences of the last terrible, awful, heart wrenchingly brutal two years have been, the one positive thing that this period of history has delivered is some of the most well-crafted and innovatively created music I have had the privilege to hear in my 51 and a bit years circling this benighted rock. Having realised that this virus thing was not going away, that touring (and the cash lifeline that goes with it) was rapidly becoming a dream and a memory, it seems that lots of musicians found focus, had plenty of things to say and knuckled down in the studio … or indeed in their airing cupboards surrounded by soundproofing duvets… 

My big regret this year though has been missing Bloodstock, as despite having a ticket roll over, a last minute COVID outbreak in my family meant that went out of the window. But I am really heartened that emerging independent bands like Agrona and Ward XVI got the chance to break through into the next tier on that stage. It’s moments like that that make all this reviewing lark seem worthwhile.

Before I give you my personal highlights, a little about the methodology I’ve employed first. I don’t dish out full marks very often and when I do, it’s because I know this is likely to be a record I will want to listen to again and again. With over 200 records crossing my path across two websites, my time to revisit stuff does start to get limited very quickly, especially since I don’t spend my life on the road in the same way anymore. That said, when I find something I really like, it will make its way to my phone and car. So consistently good has been the output this year that whittling this down to only ten entries has not been that easy. So, in alphabetical order ….

The Top Ten

Arion – “Vultures Die Alone”

Part Melodic, part Symphonic, part Progressive, but a thoroughly Modern Metal Milly to boot, Arion came out of left field for me back in April. At the time they only scored a nine, but time and repeated listening has meant that they have certainly moved up to the top of the list of 2021 and they are a classic example of why sometimes bands should not rush out albums for the sake of it. This is timely and beautifully crafted, with some well-used guest features, and a vocalist with the most distinctive larynx I’ve heard in a long while (think of a more Modern Metal version of Chester Bennington, with all the soul and emotion that goes with that image). It’s catchy, it’s heavier than a two ton heavy thing, and it’s still got me going months later. Even the ballad rocks the bollocks off of most of the competition.

Highlights:
‘Out Of My Life’
‘Bloodline’
‘In The Name of Love’

Vultures Die Alone Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialArion

Beast In Black – “Dark Connection”

Former Battle Beast axeman Anton Kabanen has put together a truly odd little album here. I shouldn’t like it, but I really do. Whereas the first two albums were a little more in the traditional Melodic/ Power Metal mode (although starting to head in this direction), this piece melds Synthwave groove (to the point where 80’s Disco starts to come out loud and clear) with blisteringly infectious Metal tropes, as let’s face it I can’t think of a single other Metal record that could claim the Bee Gees as an influence. The songs on here are so catchy that you cannot help but tap along throughout, with the unexpectedly brutal vocal delivery of Yannis Papadopoulos, who could give Ripper Owens a serious run for his money, even when he’s channelling his inner Barry Gibb. Even my kids like it, so it must be good … the cover is less so though (see below)…

Highlights:
‘Highway To Mars’
‘One Night In Tokyo’
‘Moonlight Rendezvous

Dark Connection Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/beastinblackofficial

Dream Theater – “A View From The Top Of The World”

Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, there can be no doubt that Dream Theater are absolutely top of the Progressive Metal totem pole. They’ve not always done that consistently over the years, with the challenges that line up stability always brings, not to mention the odd ridiculously over indulgent and naff double concept album along the way. That felt like it was a blip, as the current line-up that finally cemented when Mike Mangini joined the band a few albums back has been the strongest and most consistent in their long history. You can forgive them for something like ‘The Astonishing’ when this comes along, because this is seminal, distilled and spot on Dream Theater firing on all cylinders. Catchy and melodic, this album bizarrely remains highly listenable despite its length and the presence of a couple of crazily long tracks. This is pure DT at their absolute best.

Highlights:
‘The Alien’
‘Invisible Monster’
‘Sleeping Giant’
‘A View From The Top Of The World’

A View From The top Of The World Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/dreamtheater

Exodus – “Persona Non Grata”

I never understood why Exodus have been so criminally overlooked, as they were so much a part of the original Thrash scene’s birth in San Francisco’s Bay Area. It’s a shame, but line up stability had an awful lot to do with it. But time has continually proven their place in the history of the scene, and albums like this along with the righteous recent surge in their popularity underline clearly why. Bands in the 80’s in the genre often turned out their best material in pressured studio environments, on crap equipment and with engineers who didn’t understand Metal but still had a frisson that overcame those limitations, yet bizarrely lost that special something when better production values came along. But not here, oh no. This album is shit hot energetic Thrash of the finest quality, which has the hasty and frenetic energy of the early days combined with the maturity, craft and production values of right here and now. It really doesn’t get better than this, and the (remaining) members of the Big Four should take note, because Exodus deserve the slot vacated by Slayer for this album alone.

Highlights:
‘Persona Non Grata’
‘Lunatic Liar Lord’
‘The Years of Death and Dying’

Persona Non Grata Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/exodusattack

Flotsam & Jetsam – “Blood In the Water”

For the second time this year, and indeed, within this very article, I must bow down to the elder gods of Thrash for rising from the ashes with an album that both encapsulates their heritage and leaves it standing in the dust at the same time. This band had a deserved reputation, yet have struggled to get the popularity and consistency over the years. But for the best part of a decade they have come back bigger and better than their original heyday, which let’s face it was criminally undervalued at the time. It manages the same trick that Exodus pulled off of capturing their old zeitgeist in a new and crisply well-produced package, and A.K. Knutson’s vocal delivery is quite frankly exceptional. I stand by my original review comment that a 10 is not quite enough here, as sometimes things truly do go up to 11…

Highlights:
‘Blood In The Water’
‘Cry For The Dead’
‘Burn The Sky’

Blood In The Water Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/flotsamandjetsam.official

Helloween – “Helloween”

The template for Euro Power Metal really does begin with this band. From Kai Hansen’s Thrash and Speed Metal inspired debut, to the glory years when the frankly phenomenal vocal powers of Michael Kiske came on board, Helloween were one of the most influential and more importantly great Metal bands of the period and the lynchpin of the success of the Noise International label. When both of those two moved on, Helloween floundered, along with everyone else, as Grunge ripped the Metal scene apart. But they built themselves back up again from scratch with the stylistically very different but very strong singer Andy Derkis. Then a few years ago the unimaginable happened – both Hansen and Kiske re-joined Helloween alongside the existing line up to form a seven piece Powerhouse of Metal. The Pumpkins Reunited tour was a massive global hit and as this album proved, not just a one-off event. This line up has recorded what may just be their masterpiece, which successfully melds the three very different singers and all the better elements of their vast career into an absolute monster of a record, and would appear to be the way all things Helloween are done from now on. 

Highlights:
‘Out For The Glory’
‘Best Time’
‘Skyfall’

Helloween Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/helloweenofficial

Ignea & Ersedu – “Bestia” EP

I had come across Ignea last year and rather enjoyed them, but this split 5 track EP project with fellow Ukranians Ersedu is something else entirely. Covering between the two acts the stylistic fusion of Symphonic, Power and Death Metal with a distinctly Middle Eastern chord structure this conceptual EP exploring the mythical cultures of their home country is quite simply fabulous. It stylistically is so left field that it still leaves me with an uncanny feeling of surprise all these listens later, and I defy anyone not to be blown away by the vocal performances of the two frontwomen delivering roaring guttural shredding and clean and beautiful brilliance in equal measures between them. I normally save this end of year adoration for full albums rather than EP’s, but this is conceptually clever enough to be so close it’s not worth calling. The bands’ alternate tracks and then come together for the spectacular closer ‘The Eaters of the Sun’ and I am left bereft at the thought that this is just a one off, despite now having two new bands I know that I am going to keep following.

Highlights:
‘Mermaids’
‘The Eaters of the Sun’

Bestia EP Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/ignea.band/

https://www.facebook.com/erseduband/

Mad Symphony – “Mad Symphony” EP

This Canadian Melodic Hard Rock Supergroup released their EP in the summer, to universally and deservedly high praise across the board. What has become known as the New Wave Of Classic Rock (did we learn nothing with the NWOBHM acronym?) is more than just some retro bubble, but a genuine breathing musical entity that has one platform boot firmly in the Classic Rock world, with the other firmly ensconced in the present and, more importantly, the future. It quite frankly blew my socks off when I heard it for its unnerving ability to summarise so many of the sounds that got me here all those years ago, whilst also sounding fresh, modern, relevant and damned good fun. This EP was a toe-tester at the label’s behest, with a full album waiting in the wings for 2022 release. Watch this space, because these chaps are going to be phenomenal.

Highlights:
‘Do It All Over Again’
‘The Next Door’

Mad Symphony EP Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/madsymphonyband/

Manimal – “Armageddon”

This album is simultaneously one of the best and also the most frustrating things to have come across my desk this year. I had not encountered Manimal before, perhaps not surprising in that even though they’ve been going for over 20 years, this is only their fourth album. Let’s be clear – it’s an absolutely fantastic piece of music, with a vocal performance in the Halford and Ripper traditions (with a good dose of Primal Fear for good measure) that is quite frankly exceptional. In fact it’s everything that I was hoping that K.K.’s Priest would deliver, but sadly didn’t. The frustration though comes from the fact that, although I reviewed it way back in early September, its release has been continually put back, as Manimal, like so many others, have struggled to get their physical copies pressed and distributed. Those copies are existential life blood for bands when touring is still not fully up to speed, but the worry I have is that this may disappear if it’s released too close to Christmas. So I’m playing it loud a lot and so should you. 

Highlights:
‘Burn In Hell’
‘Slaves of Babylon’
‘Path To The Unknown’

Armageddon Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/manimalofficial/

Powerwolf – “Call of the Wild”

Given the number of Power Metal albums I cover, you may be surprised to read that Powerwolf had not really registered too much on my radar before this. I guess their image had always made me assume that they were something very different musically, but when it comes to anthemic Power tropes, these boys (along with Sabaton) are probably top of the game of the second generation of Power Metal in Europe. Their home country would appear to agree with them as this record made it to number 2 in the Germany charts. It’s not difficult to see why, being laden with catchy and anthemic tracks from start to finish. There’s an argument out there that says if you’ve heard one Powerwolf album, then you’ve heard them all, in which case make this your starting selection, as its them in a nutshell.

Highlights:
‘Faster Than The Flame’
‘Dancing With The Dead’
‘Alive or Undead’

Call Of The Wild Album Cover Art

https://www.facebook.com/powerwolfmetal

Notable Mentions

So this is where it gets tight. These are the ones I still think are fab, but fall below my criteria of repeated listens, although to be fair in some cases it’s simply because they’ve not been around as long yet. Either way, all are thoroughly recommended.

Against Evil – “End Of The Line”
Armored Saint – “Symbol Of Salvation Live”
Artillery – “X”
Blaze Bayley – “War Within Me”
Motorjesus – “Hellbreaker”
Ronnie Atkins – “One Shot”
The Spectre Beneath – “The New Identity of Sidney Stone”
Ward XVI – “Unplugged And Sedated”

Worst Album Cover Of The Year

Last year I signed off with an album from an established artist who really should have known better, that was so excruciatingly bad that it deserved everything it got and gave me a chance to go full on 80’s Kerrang! on his ass (sorry Glen). This year I’ve taken a slightly different approach to reviewing in general though… 

Basically with far more albums to review than I could possibly have time for and because I like to give them enough time to appreciate some of the work that’s gone into them (which means at least two listens apiece before I write so much as a word), I made the decision at the start of the year that if something was clearly going to be a bit of a flop that I would shift my attention elsewhere, which is why you rarely see anything from me with a score under 5. It’s not that I am being overly generous with my scores, it’s simply that I would rather spend my precious time in front of the keyboard being a little more kind to those who deserve it, than being bitchy for the sake of it. This means quite a lot of material gets filtered out after a couple of tracks and handed to a colleague more in tune with it, as it’s really better to say nothing than something nasty for the sake of filling electronic space.

That said, a couple of the albums that crossed my radar have raised my eyebrows in a different way this year. Now most of us ye olde folks probably own a couple of examples of some really atrocious album art – most likely dating back to the 80’s, when some labels were really not showing much love and care to their artistes. There’s plenty of websites dedicated to this phenomenon, with social media feeds periodically reminding us of some classic clangers, but like Christmas songs new entrants aren’t being given an opportunity to shine, so I have decided to do my small part to correct that. This last year has seen a revival of the The Truly Awful Album Art genre and so for your delectation and delight I present you with my two personal favourites in this category from 2021. 

One important point – both these albums scored 6 or above, in fact one of them is in my top 10 above, however, someone needs to have a word about how to make an impression with artwork.. Here goes:

Beast In Black – “Dark Connection”

Now, the whole mood of this piece drips with 80’s tropes and thematically is a homage to Blade Runner. It’s a fantastic piece of music but the cover really needs to fall through the time warp that brought it soon…

Bloody Hell – “The Bloodening”

Joseph, Mary and the Wee Little Donkey why, why, why?

The Bloodening Album Cover Art

Read some of Simon’s original reviews here:

(Written by Beth Jones)

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Blaze Bayley – War Within Me

War Within Me Album Cover Art

Blaze Bayley – War Within Me
Blaze Bayley Recording
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 41:47
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Now those that know me well know I have a deep and long held love for Iron Maiden. They may also know that despite the fact, that back in the day, I was hugely impressed by Bayley’s performances in Wolfsbane, that sadly the stars really did not quite align when it came to him filling the empty spot left on the monitors when Bruce Dickinson went into the wilderness. What he has done since though has been pretty consistently good and he’s one of the hardest working acts on the block, so let’s treat those Maiden years for what they were – a blip in a career that’s otherwise been pretty consistent quality wise.

And it must be said that this record is probably the best thing I have heard from him in a very long time…

Musically this is all about Chris Appleton and the guys from Absolva, but Bayley isn’t just overlaying here and feels like he’s been a core part of the writing process as his vocal work interweaves beautifully with the instrumentalists. Some real thought has gone into targeting the sound that they want to achieve here, which is like a virtual tour around the delivery aspects and sounds that Bayley’s associated best with. The upshot of all this is that it feels like a cohesive band, rather than a solo project plus backing band more than any of the previous post-Maiden outings I have heard. It sounds like it should be a concept album, but it isn’t – that said there are themes that recur and a positive upbeat tinge to the lyrics, which contrasts with the musical tone. There’s a strong thematic block near the end of the record in particular that explores the respect held for scientific pioneers, so three tracks tell stories about Alan Turing, Nikolai Tesla and Stephen Hawking respectively – it’s almost like finding an EP hidden within the larger album.

The style is very much NWOBHM influenced Power Metal, but with a more understated technical dimension to the guitar work that is quite exceptionally talented. Equally some of the guitar parts are a bit Maidenesque, as is the vocal phrasing which echoes his brief tenure of walking among giants. It’s a strong blending of sounds that means it going to appeal to the broadest base of his audience and I would be very keen to see this material live.

This is an album that’s really growing on me because every time I sit down to write the review, I find myself stopping to simply listen and enjoy the songs. That happens rarely with me, especially when I have a (virtual) teetering pile of records to listen to with release dates in the past. But I can’t help it, and neither will you if this grabs you. A palpable hit, Mr Bayley.

‘War Within Me’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. War Within Me
02. 303
03. Warrior
04. Pull Yourself Up
05. Witches Night
06. 18 Flights
07. The Dream of Alan Turing
08. The Power of Nikola Tesla
09. The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking
10. Every Storm Ends

LINE-UP:
Blaze Bayley – Vocals
Christopher Appleton – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Martin McNee – Drums
Karl Schramm – Bass

LINKS:

Blaze Bayley Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Stonedead Festival 2020 Preview

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Stonedead Festival 2020 Preview
‘The Monster Returns’
By Paul Monkhouse

After two years Stonedeaf Festival is no more. This isn’t due to any issues with the event at all but just purely a need to change the name due to a rival event. Announced during this year’s festival, it was revealed that the new name of this rapidly growing gathering of the cream of the rock scene would be Stonedead and they have certainly continued the trend for stunning line-ups as the reveal of the bands booked thus far has proven.
Once again, the ethos is very much a music festival run by music fans and recaptures the excitement and spirit of those early halcyon years of Monsters of Rock. In the two years since its inception, the event has grown from strength to strength and seems to have truly captured the hearts and imaginations of whole families and generations who just want to hear some of the best bands around in a friendly atmosphere that is well run, affordable and genuinely cares for the rock community that gathers there to worship at the stacks of Marshall Amps. With two hugely impressive festivals under their belts already the announcement of the artists booked so far for 2020 will push the excitement levels up to 11.
Black Star Riders
Headlining will be classic rock supergroup Black Star Riders and anyone who witnessed them on their latest tour will know that the band are firing on all cylinders and knocking every show out of the ballpark. Since forming in 2012 the band have certainly fulfilled their avowed intent to be the next stage in the evolution of Thin Lizzy and have very much grown their own identity whilst capturing the Celtic fire and spirit of the legendary Irish rockers. Helmed by Lizzy axeman Scott Gorham and former Almighty frontman Ricky Warwick, BSR are titans in the rock scene and the immense talent and charisma of these two hugely respected musicians has led them to new heights. Each album has continued to build the formidable machine and their lives shows have become the absolute epitome of what a visceral and exciting celebration of hard rock should be. One of the best bands in the world, Black Star Riders will blow you away.
https://www.facebook.com/BlackStarRidersOfficial/
Tyketto
Tyketto ripped up the rule book when they emerged and produced one of THE classic debut albums of all time in “Don’t Come Easy” and have genuinely never looked back. Formerly fronting Waysted, Danny Vaughn brought his incredible voice and writing talents to form the band with three like-minded New Yorkers and lead single ‘Forever Young’ broke through big time, enjoying constant rotation on MTV. Their rapidly soaring profile saw them opening shows for Bon Jovi and Whitesnake, often blowing the headliners off the stage with their own brand of street tough rock that had a gift of unassailable melody. Grunge put a dampener on things but the band regrouped and proved that you can’t keep quality down. Although the line-up has changed throughout the years, Vaughn has truly been the beating heart of these masters of their craft, his superb voice and stage presence never letting up. After such a stunning start it would be difficult for most bands to reach that high-water mark but Tyketto have produced album after album of immense tunes, fuelled by a craft and determination that Bon Jovi left behind years ago. Prepare to fall in love.
https://www.facebook.com/TykettoTheOfficial/
Kris Barras Band
‘Bruising’ is the perfect way to describe Kris Barras as this former MMA cage fighter has produced album after album of muscular blues rock with his self-titled band as well as fronting the supergroup Sonic Blues Machine alongside ZZ Tops Billy Gibbons. A man totally committed to his craft, Barras has toured relentlessly around Europe to growing audiences and each album has grown heavier and won more accolades than each previous release. A player of remarkable sensitivity and verve, he’s certainly caught the imagination of not only the general public but also blues purists who have hailed him as one of the finest guitarists on the scene. Latest album ‘Light It Up’ is a powerful testament to the importance of the blues as a genre while never holding back the punches and providing a crunching soundtrack that more than satisfies fans of rock too and his set at Stonedead should provide the highlight for many on the day.
https://www.facebook.com/krisbarrasband/
Blaze Bayley
Blaze Bayley is best known as front man for Tamworth rockers Wolfsbane and then as the man Iron Maiden handpicked to replace the departing Bruce Dickinson and latterly fronting his own titular band, constantly on the road and pouring blood, sweat and tears into every show. His appearance at Stonedead celebrates his time with Maiden so expect some classic tracks from ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Virtual XI’ albums along with a few other prime cuts. A magnetic performer, Bayley will be bringing his own brand of Midlands Metal that will doubtless thrill all those lovers of British steel.
https://www.facebook.com/officialblazebayley/
Tygers Of Pan Tang
Arguably better than ever, Tygers of Pan Tang are one of the most legendary bands of the NWOBHM and follow in the footsteps of Diamond Head this year as leaders and vanguards of the genre who have appeared at the festival. Featuring original guitarist Robb Weir, the band have seen themselves touring all through Europe and beyond to packed houses, rammed with people who appreciate the constantly high class of the writing and performances. From the seminal debut “Wild Cat” through to new album “Ritual” the band have always brought the perfect mix of melody and heaviness that has been their trademark since they emerged from the wilds of Whitley Bay in the North East and they certainly show no signs of slowing down.
https://www.facebook.com/tygersofpantangofficial/
Myke Gray feat Kim Jennett
You would have to been hiding under a rock to have not heard of the perfect pairing of former Jagged Edge, Skin and Red White & Blues guitarist Myke Gray with former Voodoo Blood frontwoman Kim Jennett, such are the seismic ripples these two have caused. One of the hardest working and highly thought of musicians in the country, Gray has played on some of the biggest stages in Europe and toured with giants of the rock scene, his skill as a writer and six stringer drawing plaudits from rock fans and peers alike. With her incredible blues rock voice and commanding stage presence, Jennett has met her perfect mentor in the guitarist and has grown immeasurably since they started working together in the Summer of 2018. With a well-received support tour with Black Star Riders and an absolutely incendiary show at Download this year under their belts the two have proven to be one of the genuine ‘must see’ acts on the live circuit and are destined to prove one of the truly legendary ‘’I was there…’’ sets in the history of Stonedead.
https://www.facebook.com/MykeGrayMusician/
https://www.facebook.com/kimjennettvocalist/
With the Special Guests and opening band slots yet to be announced it already looks that Stonedead 2020 will be one of the events of the year and at £50 arena entry or £60 arena and camping fee (cheaper for children) it’s an absolute bargain. The festival happens on 29th August 2020 at the Newark Showground and full details can be found at www.stonedeadfestival.co.uk. See you down the front!
 
FURTHER LINKS:


https://www.facebook.com/stonedeaffestival/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/237397456749576/

https://www.instagram.com/stonedead_fest/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCXF1P29FvLRXD_IqNhPNvA
 
02 BOTTOM Poster
 
 
Disclaimer: This preview is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this preview, 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.

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

Blaze Bayley – Endure and Survive

endure-and-survive-album-cover

Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (Single)
Blaze Bayley Recording
Release Date: February 2017
Running Time 4:35
Review by Rick Tilley
8/10

‘Endure And Survive’ is the title track and first single from Blaze Bayley’s forthcoming ninth solo album ‘Endure And Survive: Infinite Entanglement Part II’. As the title suggests this album is also the second instalment of the ‘Infinite Entanglement’ trilogy. This will be released on 3rd March 2017.

I think it’s fair to say that Blaze got a fair amount of unwarranted stick after he succeeded Bruce Dickinson as lead vocalist of Iron Maiden between 1994-1999 and it’s taken him a while to shake off the shackles of those comments, however, in recent years his solo work has been strong and now that he has the fantastic trio of Chris Appleton, Martin McNee and Karl Schramm (or, as you may know them, the British band Absolva) as his backing band then things have got even better and this single proves that.

‘Endure And Survive’ has been written by both Blaze and Chris and they obviously have a good partnership. I already regard Chris as a great songwriter; just listen to any of the Absolva albums for proof of that. This song has got a great riff, it’s full of power, it has a very catchy chorus, Martin’s drums and Karl’s bass are perfect together and last, but most certainly not least, Blaze’s vocals are top notch. He’s sounding better than he has done for a long time.

2016’s Infinite Entanglement was a very good album and it’s good to see the second part due for release so soon. It adds further fuel to the fire that Blaze and the Absolva boys are some of the hardest working musicians around at the moment and a massive World Tour, which has just started, will consolidate that thought.

It’s nigh on impossible to judge a release based on one song but this is an extremely good start and I look forward to reviewing the complete album soon!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Endure And Survive

LINKS:

world-tour-poster

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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.