M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 1

M2TM Manchester 2023 Heat 1 Poster

M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 1 – Dekaytah, The Island, Wrath of Man & Blacklist
The Rebellion , Manchester
15/01/23
Review by Rob Sutton

It feels like only yesterday that Manchester’s final was won by Portrayal Of Ruinn but here we are back for another year and with what looks like the toughest competition to date. 

Dekaytah

Dekaytah are a fairly new band on the scene, but one which I personally shared the stage with at the tail end of 2022 and they really impressed me then – so I was excited to see what a couple of months had done for them. Firstly, I did miss a song due to well traffic and bloody road works, but they did kick the competition off in fine style, bags of energy on stage and a cracking mix of different subgenres. Everything from Hatebreed to Lamb of God and hints of Metalcore in there as well. This all blended perfectly together, and the crowd absolutely loved it firing off into pits throughout the set. Their musicianship was pretty spot on as well, with the only niggle I could find was the actual singing. It wasn’t great in fairness, but the screams and shouts did make up for this. Honestly Dekaytah set the bar really high not only for the night but for the whole competition. A really impressive start.

https://www.facebook.com/dekaytah

The Island 

A complete change of pace in The Island was up next and they took things down a more Hard Rock route. For me the first song took way too long to kick in and when it did really lacked punch, which was a shame as in terms of performance it was really tight and had a good blend of influences which reminded me off Tool crossed with Placebo. Once the set kicked in, they really did turn up the energy most notably when the front man got rid of the guitar and gave it some beans, and then more so with the solos cutting through beautifully. Now his voice again didn’t quite work. The shouts were good and fitted the genre well, but the singing was off key and dare I say it, a bit drab. He did however make up for this with the ‘nice guy’ persona on stage, which I really liked as it was a complete change to the aggressive hyper front men in Metal. Although The Island weren’t my cup of tea, they were good and I really did enjoy the last song, but I think nerves got the better of them.

https://m.facebook.com/The.Island.Band1

Wrath of Man 

Another band that have been well and truly on my radar for the past few years is Wrath of Man. Now these guys have been about for a while and with two members also in All Consumed, you would expect a certain level of professionalism. This is exactly what we got, after the slight delay with the backing track they bounce on stage hyping the crowd and kick straight in with a heavy as fuck Death Metal tune. Again, the crowd instantly start pitting, headbanging and well the usual Metal things. The riffs on display here are absolutely brutal, a good cross between Groove and Death, with a slight hint of Thrash. Couple this with some blistering drums and a snare that echoes in your ears for the next few days, and you get the idea just how intense these guys were. The vocal ranges used were also pretty damn sweet with the lows being gut wrenching and the highs and shouts slotting in just the right places, but again the singing did nothing to me. I’d prefer just the growls and screaming if I’m honest. Nevertheless, this was an incredibly slick and professional performance and raised the bar even higher.

https://www.facebook.com/wrathofman

Blacklist 

Last up was Blackpool thrashers Blacklist, another band that have been on my radar for a fair few years. These guys also aren’t short of experience, and it shows. Despite another issue with what I think was an intro track they bounced on stage hyping the crowd and immediately kicked into… well Thrash. To me this is what Blacklist are, ticking every box when it comes to Thrash Metal and their performance. It was tight, energetic, epic solos, thundering bass and a crowd going mental. Yes, pits throughout once again with a huge wall of death and even a slow dance pit. I honestly loved this set and that’s coming from someone who isn’t into Thrash, but it did everything that you would want from a show. I really couldn’t find any fault with them.

https://www.facebook.com/BlacklistMetal

For me three bands deserved to go through and it was a tough one to call, but Dekaytah went through on crowd vote – which didn’t surprise me as they seemingly brought most of the crowd but still had done enough to warrant a judges vote too. Wrath of Man went through on the judges views, which I can also agree on. Blacklist definitely should be in the hunt for a wildcard if there is one though.

OK now I have to rant. Lighting… for Dekaytah there was basically nothing going on just a pre-set, The Island got some fancy bits throughout, and Wrath of Man got the same treatment but then Blacklist had nothing until the last song. This is a competition and lighting places a huge part in how an audience looks at a band. In the interest of fairness either put a pre-set and leave it for every band or go nuts for every band, not as and when you feel like it. Also please check levels for backing tracks. Speaking to the bands using them for intro’s, it transpired that these weren’t checked during their line check and left a band stood side of stage in silence waiting, I wouldn’t mind but these were thirty-minute changeovers, so there really is no excuse.

Aside from that this was a well attended and promoted show and has set the standard for the rest of the heats.

LINKS:

Venue:

Promoter:

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

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2 – Wrath Of Man

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.

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2
McLean’s Pub, Pentre, Deeside
03/06/22

Review and Photography by Beth Jones

Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses is always a hugely fun but nerve-wracking marathon, and this year has been no exception. But now we’re reaching the business end, with the last of the Semi Finals. This second semi would be do or die for the four competing bands (sadly Leatherback had to drop out due to illness), and as a judge, I knew that it was going to be the toughest call we’d made yet, because of the calibre of all the competing bands. So, what was in store for us? Well, let’s find out.

In Depths

In Depths are a Metalcore band from Chester, who are a stalwart on the stages of our local scene, and have been for some time. Here, they sounded great. They were really heavy, and technically on point, which is what we’ve come to expect from them. They use samples both in the songs, and during the gaps between songs, to keep the atmosphere up, which worked really well. Front man Callum was really into it for this performance too, throwing himself around the stage, and the area in front of it. But there was, by the end of the set, a huge elephant in the room. They overran by 7 minutes. This not only irritated the other bands, but also put pressure on the already tight schedule for the night. This was, unfortunately, unacceptable, which is a real shame as, musically, I couldn’t fault them. Speaking to Beany during the judging process, he said “Unfortunately, no matter how good In Depths were, when they announced at 29 minutes into their set, that they had two songs left, they forced the team into a decision – do we cut them off, or let them carry on and discount them from the vote? The decision was made to discount them from the judges’ vote, due to lack of professionalism. However, it was decided that, if they won the crowd vote, we would let them go through. Their timing issues created bad feeling with the other competing bands, and as N.E.W Metal Production we are massively disappointed that a band we put through on a wild card, giving them a second chance, would throw it away in this fashion and pile the pressure on us for the rest of the night, to get back on track.”

https://www.facebook.com/InDepths

Wrath Of Man

These guys are brutal Death Metal from Preston. And boy are they brutal. They smacked us in the face straight off the bat. Hard, heavy as fuck, and LOOOUUUDDDDD!!!!! They have a real aggressiveness that told the audience exactly who Wrath Of Man were from the get go. But they’re also masters of intricate guitar riffs and rythms, and have a good sense of stagecraft. Their frontman is a man mountain, who commanded the entire place really well, and believe me , when he roars, you sit up and listen! The drums were possibly a little too high in the mix, and the bass was a bit muddy. But this didn’t take away from what was a brilliant performance, and is only me nit-picking. You could see how seriously they were taking it, it was a step up from their performance in the heats, and it was totally worthy of a spot on the New Blood stage. My one word of advice would be to get a little slicker between song changes. Keep the momentum going. Other than that, absolutely spot on. Well done fellas. 

https://www.facebook.com/wrathofman

Bad Earth

Y Bois Bach! Hailing one third from Denbigh and two thirds from Wrexham, these chaps are our real home guys. Every time I see them, I don’t think they can get any better, yet somehow, every time, they do! They play their own brand of Rock, mixed with Thrash, and a spoonful of Modern Metal, and this performance was, for me, very frikkin’ special. It was on point and faultless, and every one of the trio gave everything they had to bring the show to the crowd. It was hi-octane from start to finish and I bloody loved it!!! They really have something magical going on now they’ve found the sweet spot with line-up – it’s a proper bromance, which comes together epically when the lights go up on them. This was my performance of the night. They absolutely deserve to go a very long way, and it would please me no end if they did. I feel like a proud mum! Bendigedig cariads!!!

https://www.facebook.com/BADEARTH

Apollyon

Apollyon are a long-standing Wrexham band, who took a breather for a bit, but have come back full force. They’re a good solid UK Thrash trio whose experience does show in their stage presentation. They bring powerful riffs, angry vocals, and thundering drums, as you would expect from a quality Thrash band. But I have to say that while they are musically and technically very proficient and well-rehearsed, they don’t really float my boat. Old school Thrash has never really been my thing, and still isn’t. I just can’t get excited about it. You can’t like everything can you? But if you like that sort of thing, you’ll love them, so please do check them out!

https://www.facebook.com/apollyonsteel

Solitary

Our first guest headline of the evening was more UK Thrash – Solitary. They’re kicking it with the bigger boys now, and their performance showed off their next level status and experience. They have a huge amount of stage presences, and everything is in your face with bells on (not literally, it’s another few months until Christmas yet. That said, bells being played in a Thrash style could be fun…) Vocally, they were on point, too. Crystal clear and angry as fuck! The bass player also has a huge stage presence, and pulls many bass-faces, which is great to watch. They managed to work the somewhat knackered crowd really well, too, which again shows off their calibre. Like with Apollyon, it’s not my cup of tea, but I did enjoy the pace and flow of the set. 

https://www.facebook.com/Official.Solitary

Democratus

Now, here are a gang of lads from South Wales who I absolutely love, and when they were announced as guest headliners for this gig, I did a little happy dance. Having seen them a few times before, I knew what was in store for the remaining crowd, and as usual Democratus did not disappoint! They play pacey Melodic Death Metal, and man do they do it well. They also love a bit of audience participation, with a couple of singalongs that went down a treat with us die hard late nighters! Now, at this point I want to mention something. The amazing talent of the bass player. He was absolutely steaming drunk by the time they got on stage, to the point of almost not being able to stand, but he didn’t miss a note of his uber intricate basslines! That takes real talent! Hats off to you sir! I absolutely loved Democratus’ set, and could have listened to them all night.

https://www.facebook.com/democratusband

However, sadly, it did have to come to an end so the final announcement made of who would progress to the final could be made. Before Democratus played, Beany had announced that Bad Earth took the crowd vote – a fact I was very pleased about, as they gave the best performance on the night by a country mile. Taking the judges vote, and for the first time this year, NOT by unanimous verdict, were Apollyon. Personally, I went for Wrath Of Man, for the aforementioned reasons, but it was a very close-run thing. Wrath Of Man, please come back next year! Your performance was epic.

And that was another great night at an end. I have to say I’m mighty glad I’m not judging in the final.  It’s going to be a very difficult task for Bloodstock’s very own Simon Hall! Bring it on!!

LINKS:
M2TM North Wales:

N.E.W Metal Productions:

Mclean’s Pentre:

Bloodstock:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth 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.

M2TM North Wales 2022, Heat 3 – Wrath Of Man

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.

M2TM North Wales, Heat 3 – Central Live Music Venue, Wrexham – 08/04/2022

M2TM North Wales, Heat 3
Central Live Music Venue, Wrexham
08/04/2022
Live Review and Photos by Beth Jones

After missing the first two heats of this years Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses North Wales competition because I became afflicted with the plague, I was raring to go for heat 3! I was judging too, so t was handy that I was rona-free really! It was set to be an interesting one, with an eclectic mix of style. 

First to the stage was an instrumental 4 piece who were a completely new name on me – Grief. They hammered straight into a heavy hitting Modern Progressive style, with plenty of chunk and groove. The drummer was an absolute machine, and the bass player was throwing some pretty lively shapes, and pulling some mad faces. One guitarist looked slightly out of place – very nervous and timid compared to the larger-than-life personas o the other 3. That said, they gave a superb, tight performance, and it was a great way to start the night. My only constructive criticism would be that adding in vocals would really take it to the next level. And then we discovered something… This was only their second ever gig! That actually blew my mind. Bar raised most definitely. Well done chaps!

https://www.facebook.com/GRIEFBAND

Next up was Psychcircuit. These guys looked promising, if a little mis-matched. We had a guitarist who looked like he’d just come from a 90’s Nu-Metal gig, a second guitarist who looked like he’d been roadieing and sound checking for Maiden since the early days, a drummer who looked like he’d just popped out for a quiet pint, and a frontman who had the look of someone about to go on tour as main support for U2. Eclectic, but it just might work, right?… Meh… the sound wasn’t right. It was sloppy, and a mix of styles that didn’t really work. The frontman was using in-ear monitors, and I’m still yet to work out why. The Nu-Metal looking guitarist was shit-hot though, on the plus side. 

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

Bogans brought some heavy pop punk to proceedings next. They were good, loud, very tight, and fun… However, and I will stress this absolutely changed my voting decision, the vocalist decided to do something a little, err… daft, shall we say (for the purposes of remaining polite). So, here’s my piece of advice. When a female photographer (AKA me) is just trying their job, don’t wrap a mic cable round her neck, and then lean on her head with your elbow so hard that you hurt her back. Without wanting to sound like a feminazi snowflake, there were two male photographers there too, yet the singer decided to leave them alone… It might have been ‘just a bit of fun’ or to ‘fit with the musical genre’, but I switched off at that point, because I won’t tolerate that bullshit for anyone. 

Soapbox dismount.

https://www.facebook.com/boganspunkrock

Our final act of the night where Preston-based Wrath Of Man. I’d seen these guys at Pentre Fest a few weeks ago, and to be honest I wasn’t that keen then. However, this performance absolutely blew me away. It raised the roof, and the bar, to a whole new level. It was tight, brutal Death Metal of the highest calibre, and from about half a song in I knew exactly who was getting my judge’s vote! This was one of the most quality performances I have seen in a while. Brilliant.

https://www.facebook.com/wrathofman

And with that, it was time for the audience to cast their votes, and us judges to head into the side room to deliberate. We were unanimous, and agreed with the audience. The bands making it to the semi-finals would be Grief and Wrath Of Man. Clear cut, and totally the correct decision. Well done to both bands, and I can’t wait to see them at the semis. It’s going to be a mighty tough job choosing a winner this year!

LINKS:

N.E.W Metal Productions:

M2TM North Wales:

Bloostock:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth 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.

EMQ’s With WRATH OF MAN – M2TM EDITION

Wrath Of Man Logo

EMQ’s With WRATH OF MAN – M2TM EDITION

Hi everyone! Welcome to another special M2TM edition of our EMQs interview. This one is with Preston UK-based Thrash/ Death Metal band, Wrath Of Man. Huge thanks to their guitarist, Darren, for taking part.

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

Darren, I play guitar. The band was formed from a collaboration between Darius our drummer and I for a YouTube video. We liked how we worked so thought we would build on it and form the band. Tony joined soon after but it took a while to find the right vocalist. Then Mike from All Consumed asked to join.

What genre of Metal do you play? 

I would say it’s a cross between Thrash and Death.

How did you come up with your band name? 

I can’t really remember where Wrath of Man came from. We all put our ideas in a list and voted using a point system, this narrowed it down to 3 and we voted again. It was definitely before the film came out, ha ha!

Where are you based and what is the Metal / Rock scene like there? 

We are from Preston in Lancashire. There is a scene and most are passionate about their metal. It’s not a massive scene but there are some great underground bands hailing from our area.

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

We’ve just released our debut album “The Abstract Grotesque” of which we are very proud of.

Who have been your greatest influences?

As a kid I wanted to play bass and watching Cliff Burton was what made pick up an instrument. As a rhythm guitarist though there’s so many, ha ha!

What first got you into music?

I’ve always been into music and rock thanks to my dad and growing up to him playing Whitesnake, Rainbow Fleetwood Mac etc. I was 13 when I really started finding my own way and listening to different bands and heavier music.

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

It would be cool to jam with Eric Peterson from Testament.

What does Bloodstock Festival represent to you?

For me Bloodstock is a great chance to meet up with friends from around the country you don’t get to see often and drink beer. There’s always new bands that you discover either at the New Blood stage, Jager stage. All round great fun and great atmosphere.

Have you been to Bloodstock, and if so, what’s your favourite memory from the festival? 

I’ve been to every Bloodstock since 2014. So many memories to choose from. It’s tough. Acid Reign in the Sophie tent was awesome.

What are you going to bring to M2TM that you think will earn you a place on the New Blood Stage? 

Although we are a relatively new band on the live scene, we have a wealth of experience and have always brought an energetic in your face show. There’s always someone’s head banging.

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

Without fans and music lovers there would be no bands, no live shows and this community wouldn’t exist. Respect each other and the music.

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

I love playing shows and I actually don’t mind recording, ha ha! Unfortunately there’s more to being in a band than just playing, there’s always lots to organise which can get frustrating but that’s the way it is.

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

Ha I would have to say it’s not for one person to change anything, music is a collective.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums? 

Anthrax “Among The Living”.

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

For nostalgia vinyl, for practicality downloads.

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

We’ve only played a handful of shows thanks to Covid, but without a doubt it would have to be supporting Acid Reign.

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

No idea, ha ha!

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party? 

Ha ha with my social anxieties I’d rather not. If I was tied to a chair however… Ozzy, Chuck Billy, Billy Connelly, Sheldon Cooper and Stevie Nicks.

What’s next for the band? 

We have some shows booked starting with Pentre fest as it happens. Also carry on promoting the new album. If I haven’t already mentioned it “The Abstract Grotesque” out now LOL.

Where can people find you online? Drop us your links below:

https://wrathofman.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wrathofman/

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit? 

Does it matter? They taste awesome!

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

No, thanks!

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.

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.