Pentre Fest 2023 – Day 2

Pentre Fest 2023 – Day 2
McLeans, Pentre
Review by Alun Jones

Day 2 at Pentre fest – you could say I was a bit excited to get going.  The ever-reliable Edd Case was performing in the marquee outside as I arrived, so I missed a chunk of his set sadly, as I paid my hard earned coin to get in and neck my first ale.  Luckily, Edd did another slot of his excellent acoustic performance later on, so I got to catch him then.  I think he was filling in for some band called Trashatouille, who couldn’t be arsed to turn up and attempt to play their own acoustic effort .


First band on the indoor main stage was Scarfoot, and they made a hell of an impression.  A three-piece band, they add an extra edge to their already formidable musicianship with the use of a 12 string guitar or a Dobro.  This gives the band a huge, Zep-epic and individual sound.  They all play with a convincing passion and were absolutely enthralling.  I’d never seen them before, but had caught singer/guitarist Oliver Carins last year doing a solo acoustic set.  Next time, these guys need to be higher up the bill!  Scarfoot also blazed all over the acoustic stage later on, with a similarly massive sounding set, even without the drums.

Frank Williams

Next on the second stage: a World Exclusive Live Debut!  Frank Williams in his first official live gig, though sadly not billed as Victim of Damp.  Frank is a Pentre Fest die hard, an unsung hero who has supported the event and pitched in with Fozzy and Beany from the beginning.  This afternoon, Frank graced us with some acoustic covers (nice bit of Floyd) and banter, then introduced some comrades to help with humorous originals such as ‘Beany’s Car is Full of Shit’.  Excellent crowd participation helped Frank’s set gallop home as a pedigree winner.

Lullaby for a Unicorn

It really wouldn’t be Pentre Fest without these guys.  With a line-up change – or should I say, addition – in the shape of new vocalist, Gaz (who used to be the drummer.  Come on, keep up!).  This latest incarnation of Lullaby for a Unicorn was a refreshed and fun stallion, rather than a lame pony.  There’s a little work to do to settle the new line-up in, but it was the same boisterous energy as ever as the Unicorn boys turned Pentre into a beautiful rainbow adorned meadow.  Or blood-soaked battle field of metal mayhem, you choose.

Scarfoot was next on the second stage.  I’ve already covered that, go back and read it again.

The Human Condition

Despite a tech issue with the bass throwing a wangler with the first song, The Human Condition kept their shit together and provided another surprise.  I had done no research whatsoever and didn’t know what to expect.  By Odin’s beard, The Human Condition are a megalithic, doom metal colossus!   Doom in the vein of Candlemass, or think Geoff Tate screaming for Trouble.  Riffs are drip fed, leaving the audience begging for each new note.  Add the most powerful live vocals I’ve heard in eons, and you have a force of biblical proportions.  I bought a CD.  You should check them out NOW.

Back to the Second stage for an acoustic Pelugion set – but we’ll get to them later.

Portrayal of Ruinn

A melodic deathcore band from Manchester way, Portrayal of Ruinn isn’t quite my thing on paper, but fucking awesome live.  Possibly the most energetic band on stage at Pentre Fest all day, their combination of gutsy, nasty metal and bouncy, yet ferocious vocals proved a winner.  They also know how to pace their set brilliantly – a few mellow sections lull the crowd into a comfy security blanket, only to have it ripped maliciously away.  It’s the audio equivalent of a Video Nasty psycho killer – you’re never safe, Portrayal of Ruinn will never stop – and they will get you in the end!


Reading back my notes here, and I can’t make a thing out of them.  All I can fathom is that I REALLY liked this band: “Syncolima = great!” is about all I’ve got.  They were excellent.  Some kind of biker/stoner super heavy rock, they have groove aplenty and massive fuzzed out riffs.  This three-piece from Mansfield, Notts were unmissable.  New album “Wavelengths” is out soon, you’d be wise to watch out for it.

Miserable Sinner

Wait a minute – it’s that bloke from Bad Earth doing an acoustic set!  Yes, it’s Steve from one of Pentre Fest’s favourite bands, backed with the other two ‘orrible ‘erberts, Karl and Ben (so semi acoustic, then?).  The Bad Earth songs translate surprisingly well to the stripped-down sound, though they can’t compare to the full force fury of the full trio amped up and going for it.  But then, what could?   A great set that also included some cruel (ie hilarious) comedy signage behind Steve’s head, it also delivered a much needed bongo workout that was otherwise sadly lacking this year.

King Kraken

Mind.  Blown.  Thank the trident of Posiedon, King Kraken travelled up from South Wales (a right old trek) to play Pentre Fest, and I’m so glad they did.  The Kraken are a huge, boisterous metal machine with crushing riffs and awash with an almost psychedelic lead guitar.  My favourite band of the day, despite fierce competition – I made off with some booty from the merch desk and toasted their performance with a tankard of ale.  Please check this band out, you will not regret it.  Magnificent!


Last year, one man electronica fiend Leatherback was first on the Pentre Fest main stage.  This year, it’s a second stage headlining slot, which worked well.  Nine Inch Nails comparisons are obvious, but relevant when there’s a cover of a Reznor classic included.  Leatherback ripped through a roaring set that went down extremely well with the lively crowd, even though it was freezing outside – receiving a well-deserved, enthusiastic reception.


Pelugion had performed an excellent acoustic set on the second stage earlier, which seems to have been a great way for them to warm up for their main stage appearance.  I’ve seen these guys before at Pentre Fest and they never disappoint.  Skull smashing mega riffs, born from Sabbath and with a dose of Alice in Chains and early Soundgarden – a stoner/alt metal monster – is what you can expect.  These guys are super professional, but with grit and determination that keeps the performance compelling.

The K*nts

Headliners on the final day of Pentre Fest, the K*nts, drove over five hours from down Essex way to entertain us.  With hits such as that Christmas favourite ‘Boris Johnson is a F*cking C*nt’ and ‘F*ck the Tories’, we knew we were in for a treat.  Hilariously, the Green Room reserved for the bands had been double booked with a meeting for a local Masonic Lodge.  I wonder how The K*nts and this bunch of blazer-and-badge wearing eighty-year-olds got along back stage.  Honestly, you can’t make this shit up.  It’s like Phoenix Nights on crack!

A strange choice to headline a metal festival for some, nevertheless The K*nts put on a top show and had the audience on their side before the first song was even finished.  Delightfully obscene, but with a political edge that helps retain a tiny bit of highbrow cred too, it’s like Sham 69 with Tourette’s.  Most of the song titles are unrepeatable for a family website like Ever Metal, but let’s just say that The K*nts and their filthy brand of punk rock and humour were a mad but genius way to finish Pentre Fest off.  And it probably will be finished off, if those old Masonic dudes have anything to say about it. 

Oh, and yeah – Fuck the Tories.

Another great festival, and triumph for Fozzy and Beany! Bring on next year. 




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

King Kraken – MCLXXX

MCLXXX Album Cover Art

King Kraken – MCLXXX
Release Date: 27/01/23
Running Time: 46:11
Review by Dark Juan

Hello. Guess who’s back after depressingly few shenanigans over the now past festive period? I am Dark Juan, and now I have finally re-joined the 21st Century by reconnecting myself to the Information Superhighway and having moved from Dark Juan Terrace to the more conducive surroundings of Crow Cottage I can finally bring your attention to this new years’ crop of head-mashing extreme music.

I hope that you all receive all the blessings you wished for in 2023, and a shitload more that you didn’t know you wanted. I’m having a beer or two while I listen to the Welsh groovesters who have called themselves King Kraken. “MCLXXX” is their debut full length release and if you know your UK Metal scene you will have seen or heard them somewhere. You know, like a lingering fart that some dirty bastard has dropped with a sound not unlike felt being ripped and fucked off giggling while you chew on what they have left behind.

I’m not saying that King Kraken are like the smell of shit. It was a poor analogy, OK? I was saying that King Kraken are omnipresent. Because they are…

Lest I need a JCB to dig myself an even bigger hole, I’m going to delicately leave that statement behind me and describe some music for a change. King Kraken employ the power of groove like few other bands do and their tunes are absolutely banging, butty bach!

Album opener ‘Devil’s Night’ doesn’t fuck about with any subtlety. It’s straight into some high-octane heavy fucking metal where special mention must be given to the extraordinary throat of Mark Donoghue, whose edgy, gravelly vocals are just sheer class, reminding this mildly cranially traumatised reviewer of a slightly more melodic Neil Fallon – in fact, the whole band operate in the same musical stratum as Clutch, with the melody of Black Stone Cherry, the complexity of Mastodon and the groove power of Pantera chucked in there to create a brew that’s intoxicating as well as powerful.

The band don’t let up at all – ‘Man Made Monster’ is a briskly tempo’d straight ahead rocker with a chorus designed to have a bunch of sweaty, hairy bastards and bitches howling it back at the band, yet there’s a slightly jarring but fucking brilliant pair of solos in the middle of the song (one almost trad metal twin guitar shenanigans and one bluesy and groovy), ‘Bastard Liar’ takes no prisoners whatsoever and ‘Walls Of Jericho’ references Dio-era Black Sabbath rather splendidly, but with added roaring from the agile, adaptable throat of Donoghue.

The performance of the whole band sounds eye-bulgingly committed and more than a little bit scary in intensity – the whole record has a kind of slightly deranged, spit-flecked quality that screams that King Kraken are a cracking (see what I did there?) bunch of lads to go out on the lash with but piss them off and you’ll be retrieving your head from a different county than where you found your legs. The record is slickly produced, but slightly lacking in bottom end. Speaking as a man who likes big butts and cannot lie, Dark Juan feels that cranking up that fucking bass would allow King Kraken to knock Dark Juan’s untalented arse clear into the next room, although the playing of Karl Meyer is faultless. The guitar work on this album is second to none as well – Pete Rose hammers home a solid rhythm backdrop to the incendiary and inventive soloing of lead guitarist Adam Healey, whose playing encompasses everything from the Blues to modern Metal to give him a very unique style, which is perfectly translated to the record. Drummer Richard Mears puts in a hard-as-nails performance on the drums, although he is poorly served by the mix of the record as it has rendered his bass drum about as resonant as a fart in a vacuum, and his snare is haphazardly and unexpectedly mobile around the mix. However, we must remember that I am listening to a debut recording and there are going to be some points which ain’t fucking perfect. This will be taken into account when the record gets its score from The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System shortly.

Ignoring the slightly dodgy production, there’s virtually nothing to dislike about this record. Enthusiastic and worryingly intense performances from the whole band, highly original soloing and arrangement of the music, a vocalist who’s a fucking PEACH (yeah, I do mean hairy and squishy. What’cha gonna do about it?) of a frontman and so much groove that Pantera have downed tools and fucked off home from their tour because they can’t compare to this bunch of Wales-based sheep botherers. Can’t say fairer than that, can you?

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System would like to remind you that it still exists after a few weeks away due to moving houses and shit like that. It would be privileged to award King Kraken 9/10 for a debut record that’s that full of promise, Fry’s Turkish Delight wants its catchphrase back… A mark was deducted for not having a big enough bottom end and a slightly dodgy production. Otherwise, a fucking brilliant record and a hell of a way to open the 2023 account. Good lads. Da iawn.

01. Devils Night
02. Bastard Liar
03. Green Terror
04. Veins
05. Haddonfield ’78
06. Man Made Monster
07. Walls of Jericho
08. Proctors Ledge
09. Chaos Engine
10. Castle of Bone

Mark Donoghue – Vocals
Pete Rose – Rhythm guitar
Karl Meyer – Bass
Adam Healey – Lead guitar
Richard Mears – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan 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.



Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with South Wales based Heavy Rock/Metal band, King Kraken. Huge thanks to vocalist Mark Donoghue for taking part!

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Hi, Mark here, vocalist for King Kraken. We started around June 2018 and had our first gig in September of that year. Pete (rhythm) and Karl (bass) started the band. Pete put an ad on Facebook looking for a vocalist. I answered and thought I’d give it a shot. I think I was the fly in the ointment initially as soon as I received the initial bunch of songs to learn I re-wrote most of the lyrics and retitled the songs…bloody singers eh! Since its beginning we have been pretty relentless with regards to gigging and writing material. Within our first two years of being a band we managed to become runners up in Bloodstock: Metal 2The Masses (Cardiff), play gigs in Sheffield 02, Birmingham 02, come 3rd in HRH: Highway To Hell. Our greatest achievement to date has to be signing to Metal Rocka Records which is a sister label to Off Yer Rocks Records run by the loons at Hard Rock Hell!

How did you come up with your band name?

Oh, what’s in a name lol. We went through quite a few suggestions and got stuck in the whole ‘all of us like the name except one’. That formula went on for weeks. Most of us would like a name then one would come along and say ‘crap!’. However, can’t remember which one it was but one of the boys suggested Kraken. We all loved it but obviously there had to be an existing Kraken…there was! It was then proposed that we stick King on the front of it and the rest is….nope not gonna go down that cliche route lol. Later on, as we got more used to the name, it kind of fit our sound, huge, monstrous and stinks of fish! I like to tell people well…the King of a species is a cannibal e.g. King Cobra. Therefore, a King Kraken is a Kraken that eats other Krakens which is a lot cooler than, ‘Hey boys, stick King in front of it!’

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We are all based in South Wales covering most of the southern coast from Llanelli, Swansea, Maesteg, Pontypridd and Tredegar. The Metal/Rock scene is pretty good down our way! Covid aside there are a good few venues and most bands do know each other. You have venues such as Hangar 18 in Swansea, Fuel Rock Club in Cardiff, The Dragonffli in Pontypool, The Dolls House in Abertillery, Jacs in Aberdare, The Green Rooms in Treforest. There are plenty of places to play and hopefully we all get to play them again when this Covid nightmare ends.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Our latest release is our new EP “Chaos Engine”. It has four tracks ‘Chaos Engine’, ‘Freak’, ‘The Grey’ and ‘Castle Bone’. We recorded it in Longwave Studios with Romesh Dodangoda. He did a phenomenal job and really gave King Kraken a huge sound that we all hoped for.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Ooh now then! Have to say Queen, Black Sabbath, Mark Tremonti, Queen, Zakk Wylde, Pantera, Metallica, Queen, Paul Rogers, Clutch, did I say Queen?

What first got you into music?

My dad. He had “Queens Greatest Hits” on vinyl. Played it till the grooves wore out. My parents then bought me “Queen: The Complete Works” one year for Christmas…that was the end of that! That was my youngest memory. Wasn’t until I hit secondary school when I found Skid Row and Tesla. From there it just snowballed! As a musician my parents bought me a second-hand organ and I got pretty tidy on it. I was a keyboard player for many years before discovering my inner diva as a vocalist! 😊

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

Locally it would be ‘In Which It Burns’. Love those guys! On the bigger stage would have to be Rob Zombie or Black Label Society…sod it! BOTH! Rob Zombie could direct the music video too, win win!

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Probably Hellfest. The line-up at almost every Hellfest just makes my mouth drool! They constantly deliver killer line ups and it always evokes that ‘shit! I need to go there!’ emotion.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Don’t think we ever have had a gift let alone a weird one. Can always hope lol. I do remember in one of my previous bands which I think lasted about 18 months where a girl came up to me at a gig with our logo tattooed on her ankle. We split up shortly after.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Ride it till the wheels fall off! Read my lips! We are here but for a short time! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Everything happens for a reason! Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want! …y’know, nothing too cliched…lol. But in all seriousness the one message for fans would be…

Thank you so much for your continued support. No band is bigger than their fans. It’s people like you that make us who we are. King Kraken is a product of your belief and that’s what feeds the fire!

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

There’s a few…Dimebag, Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, Chris Cornell, Jon Lord, Lemmy but the top of the list is Freddie Mercury. After watching Wembley ’86 I vowed I would go to Queens next gig regardless of where it would be. Unfortunately, Wembley ’86 was they’re last.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I really enjoy the crowd reactions and connecting with fans. I love the camaraderie especially when someone you don’t even know comes up and tells you how much they enjoyed the show/music…it can be quite humbling. Things I hate…hmmm…dodgy unscrupulous promoters which has a knock-on effect to the decent ones. A sad reality really. There are some really good promoters out there who struggle to keep the music scene alive for the pure love of music, and then the dodgy ones come along and fuck it up for bands, venues and promoters alike. Ooh, while I remember another thing, I don’t like…the ‘holier than thou’ attitude that some purported ‘bigger names’ seem to have. One gig I particularly remember where we were supporting a touring act. The touring act didn’t even come in to see the support bands and we are not talking a big venue here, probably 150 capacity tops (it wasn’t full that night). Then after the gig, up they come ‘so where’s the party?’. The funniest thing about the whole situation was seeing our guitarists wife give him a public dressing down…and I paraphrase…’Even you started somewhere!’.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Streaming royalties for bands. Streaming has to be one of the most accessible ways to get your music out there, but we have become a slave to it. Whilst I have nothing against streaming per se, go for it! I do! But if you really want to support the music you love, buy a cd or a t shirt and support the bands directly as streaming royalties are paltry at best.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“Cowboys From Hell” – Pantera…a masterpiece!

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

For me…hmmm…Downloads for convenience but I will buy a cd/vinyl/official band merch.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Without question Hard Rock Hell: Metal 4 at Birmingham 02. We went round the crowds the days before giving out free CD’s with stickers with our stage slot for the festival on it. We were due on at 4pm. I peeped out from behind backstage at 3.45 and there was about 6 people there. Sod it! Let’s just do the best show we can. We went onstage at 4pm to a great introduction from one of the organisers only to find the entire venue roofed! 800 people crammed into the hall and all stayed for the full show. The reviews written about us for that gig were fantastic…again…another humbling experience.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Full time horror author. I still dabble (trying to write a novel) but it’s about balance. Some things take priority.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Billy Connolly, Anthony Hopkins, Freddie Mercury, Dave Grohl, Michael Sheen

What’s next for the band?

Well, providing Covid doesn’t scupper our plans we are currently writing and rehearsing material for our debut album. The plan is to return to Romesh Dodangoda for that with a release planned in the new year. Next year should be a good un with a slot at HRH: Ibiza and some other gigs I can’t confirm at the moment.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

IT’S A CAKE! THE CLUE IS IN TITLE! JESUS WEPT…anyway, Cherry Bakewell’s piss all over them!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

The road King Kraken has travelled over the last couple of years has been insane. If it weren’t for the fans there is no way we would have been able to do it. It’s because of the fans that we are able to do what we do, and it continues to gain momentum with no letting up!

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, 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.