Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses – North Wales – Semi Final 2 – Atomic, Wrexham – 25/05/2018 Review by Beth Jones
As the light evenings get longer and summer doesn’t look quite so much like something that happened in the old days, the North Wales M2TM competition is nearing its climax, and the penultimate gig saw us return to our new favourite little venue, Atomic in Wrexham. The night was set to be a good one, with a strong bill of four bands all vying for the prize, and awesome special guest headliners in the shape of the mighty Witch Tripper. Unfortunately, one of the four competition bands, Cobolt Collision, had been forced to pull out earlier in the day, due to illness – we were gutted, but I can guarantee we weren’t as gutted as them. Hopefully they will get another chance at the competition sometime in the future. But these things unfortunately can’t be helped. And so, the stage was set, the atmosphere was great and the nervous tension palpable, as we entered what I shall lovingly call ‘the Snug’!
First up were Redwood Avenue, a band that we had seen originally at Hammerfest earlier in the year and were a little non-plus about. I wrote in our review of that… “They were good, but for me the music needs more of a hook; it felt a little disjointed in places, but the guys are only young, so this will hopefully come with time”… Now this doesn’t happen very often, but…… OK I ADMIT IT – I WAS REALLY WRONG!!! We have now seen them three more times, and they have been better each time – it’s funny how first impressions can be so wrong. I’m not saying never listen to me because I am clearly an idiot, but NEVER LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE I AM CLEARLY AN IDIOT!! They were tight, they were catchy, they were riffy and their mix was crisp. They got the place instantly bouncing, and gave the audience a great show to start the night. They are more modern metal, but they properly know what they are doing, and I am ashamed that I passed it off after our first encounter. My humblest apologies guys! This performance was by far the best we had seen them. Cracking!
After a quick vape/bar/comfort break, it was back up to the Snug for band number two – the utterly loopy Mad Spanner. These guys are just hilarious – they are the Monty Python of metal, combining off the wall observational comedy with chaotic thrash / punk! Lead singer Michael has one of the most expressive faces I have ever seen, and his height and huge amount of hair add to the overall manic-ness of their performance. They humoured us with tracks such as, ‘Get Off Your Bastard Phone (You Antisocial Dickhead)’ and ‘We Are No Longer Forced To Use A Shitty Drum Machine’, and everyone had a great time throwing people round the pit and laughing manically as they did it. Absolutely hilarious, wild, manic, fun. So much so that I even took my hair out of a ponytail and had a little mosh! Whilst, musically, they may not be the tightest band in the world, for the sheer fun factor, they are two thumbs good in my book!!
The final competition band were Cadence Noir. When we saw these guys in the heats, bassist Tom was somewhat incapacitated, on crutches, so had to sit down to play, but by the Semi he was up on two feet again and it did make a difference to their performance. Again, their sound was great, and you could tell that they were really up for the competition. They say that their style is ‘Gothic Folk ‘n’ Roll’, which is right up my street – I would possibly call them Pirate Metal, because that is what it makes me think of! I love the fact that their music does have folky roots, and the roll played by Fiddle player, Emma, is integral to their music. For this show, Tom was also interchanging between his standard electric Bass and a mighty sexy electric double bass, which added another dimension again. Their upbeat, bouncy, rum drinking tracks had the whole room moving again, and my personal favourite is their jaunty little ditty, ‘Fuck, Fuck, Boom, Boom’! Loved it!
And that was the last of the competition bands – this was going to be the toughest decision yet for the judges – all three deserved a place in the final in my opinion. So, whilst the judges deliberated, and after another quick vape/bar/etc break, the special guest headliners, the mighty Witch Tripper, took to the stage. Beany, our Master Of Ceremonies, had announced them as ‘the hardest working band in the UK at the moment’, and I have to say that, with the exception of Absolva, I completely agree. Their passion and complete dedication is conveyed superbly by their musicianship and performance technique and I love them! They fill the stage even though there are only three of them and produce song after song after song of solid, groove laden, proper hard heavy rock. They are the genre’s equivalent to a top quality 8oz fillet steak (or vegetarian equivalent!) and deserved to be savoured and enjoyed! Seriously if you have not heard these guys, you really need to check them out. We are hugely looking forward to seeing them at Amplified in a couple of months’ time.
After the sheer brilliance of Witch Tripper, it was time for the big reveal. It was too close to call, and Beany milked this for as long as humanly possible, and then a bit longer! After truly putting the whole audience on tenterhooks, the bands announced to progress to the final were…… Redwood Avenue and Cadence Noir! It was such a shame that one had to go, and that one had to be Mad Spanner, but that is the unfortunate nature of competition. Regardless, the night was brilliant, the bands superb, and the atmosphere warm, friendly and jovial throughout. I was in my happy place. Bring on the final, because if it is half as good as the semi, it will be a cracking show.
For those who can get there, I thoroughly recommend making sure you do – there is a move of venues, to Central Station, and the addition of a second stage, meaning the night will be even more jam packed with great music. I think I should probably book the Saturday off work!!
M2TM North Wales FINAL – Central Station Wrexham – 15/06/2018 Event Page
Disclaimer: This review is 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Bloodstock ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ North Wales Semi Final 1 Atomic, Wrexham – 04/05/2018 Review by Beth Jones
Following four great heats, Friday 4th May saw the first semi-final of the North Wales leg of the hotly contested Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses. With the ultimate prize of a spot on the New Blood stage at this year’s Bloodstock Festival, the competition was going to be fierce. The standard thus far in the heats had been excellent, so it was also going to be a very close contest, and I, for one, was glad that it wasn’t me having to stand in the judges’ shoes, as the evening did not disappoint.
The weather on Friday had been pretty nice and it was still quite warm outside. Now, for those of you who haven’t been to Atomic in Wrexham, which was the venue hosting the event, it is a cracking little venue – with little being the operative word! Let’s just say that it is a venue where you get very friendly with people very quickly, and it is a little on the warm side once you get any more than ten people in the room!
The first band of the night, Lullaby For A Unicorn, decided to embrace the heat, by dressing their bass player in a pink fluffy unicorn onesie! It was a sight to behold! You know it is going to be proper metal when you have a unicorn light, a cowboy hat, light up shoes, a seagull suspended from a smoke alarm, and a large gentleman with a light up bass, in a unicorn onesie and shades!! And this eclectic gathering of lunatics did not disappoint. The ethos of the band was fun, crazy and madcap; however their all-round musicianship was superb. The singer was incredibly animated, sometimes looking a little unhinged, but this just added to the overall presentation. The drummer impressed me most and I found myself drawn to watching him, purely for the force at which he played with! The whole room was bouncing along with them, embracing the crazy juxtaposition of pink and fluffy with chunky riffs, growly vocals and general metal mentalness. They took us through 30 minutes of hilarious awesomeness and started the night off with a bang! They truly are the originators of the genre they classify themselves in – ‘Turbo Metal Unicorn Sexy Horn Time’.
The question then was ‘how the hell do you follow that?’ The answer was ‘with Impavidus of course’!!! Holy undercrackers! The was our first experience of these guys, as we hadn’t been able to make their heat, and it was, if you will excuse the expression, FUCKING AWESOME! The female fronted fourpiece from Manchester absolutely took the roof off the place with their fast paced, ridiculously funky heaviness. The vocal abilities of lead singer, Michelle Adamson, are just insane! She has the ability to switch between something that sounds like Gollum possessed by many demons, to beautiful, clean vocals in the blink of an eye. They absolutely owned the stage. The musicianship of each individual member was displayed brilliantly, with intricate guitar work, heavy bass, solid rhythms and the amazing vocals. Their tunes are not overly intricate, but have lots of changes and variations on themes, that kept it interesting and enthralling for their entire performance. You could not help but be drawn to them. We were utterly blown away by them. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what we got was something really, really great.
Next up, were a group of crazy kids from deepest darkest North Wales, who go by the name of Krank! These guys were a little bonkers and definitely a little erratic, and this came through in their music. They were tight and good as musicians, but a little too schizophrenic for me to keep up with. They did have a good groove though and the vocalist’s energy was insane. He was a tall chap, the ceiling in Atomic is quite low, and at one point I got distracted from the music, worrying that he was going to knock himself out by headbutting the ceiling! I did feel a little underwhelmed by them though unfortunately. This may have been because the two previous bands had been of such a high standard, that it would have to have been a very special band to top them. It is a shame, because they were good, they were funny, they were tight, and they were obviously all good musicians – they just didn’t quite float my boat.
The final band in the competition for the evening was OMV. We had seen these guys at their heat and I was very impressed with them, so was expecting big things at the Semi Final, and again, they delivered. They have a very definite look about them, with all bar the singer wearing some form of mask, and have obviously thought hard about the visual image they want to convey to fit in with their musical style. They are again extremely tight as a band and are all really talented musicians. There style is very definitely Crossover Hardcore, and their music punches you in the face with heavy, angry vocals, complex bass lines, and fast intricate guitars. They have got something to say and they are going to say it whether you like it or not! Thankfully, I liked it! I didn’t think on the night, they were quite as on point as they were in their heat, however they were still very impressive and their performance incredibly energetic. It is clear to see that they put a lot of work into what they do, and hats off to them for that. I really enjoyed them.
So that was the end of the competition bands for the evening, however the entertainment was set to continue, whilst the judges deliberated and counted up the audience vote. That entertainment was brought to us on the night by special guest headliners Outright Resistance. Having seen these guys at Amplified Festival last year, and been mightily impressed with their tightness and stage presence, especially from their singer, and then being shocked by the news they had parted company with her a little later in the year, we weren’t sure what to expect. They were still tight and incredibly well rehearsed, and the new singer was good, but for me, it had lost a bit of the sparkle. It was a shame because they are so good. Maybe it just needs time to gel more. I don’t know.
Then came the important bit of the night, the announcement (drum roll please!) After a very difficult deliberation the judges vote went to Impavidus. I have to say that we were in 100% agreement with this – they were by far the best on the night. The public vote went to OMV-Hardcore /Crossover – again this was definitely deserved. So two of the four bands progressing to the final were decided and we left, having had a great night, and thoroughly looking forward to semi-final 2…..
TO BE CONTINUED……
M2TM North Wales SEMI FINAL 2 – Atomic Wrexham 25/05/2018 Event Page:
Disclaimer: This review is 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Hammerfest X– Day Two Hafan y Moor Holiday Park, Pwllheli, North Wales Saturday 17th March2018 Review by Rick Tilley & Beth Jones
…CONTINUATION OF OUR EXPLOITS AT HAMMERFEST X
After a surprisingly good night’s sleep in our comfy little apartment, we were up bright and early to get ready for day two. It was going to be a bit of a backwards and forwards day with interviews and trying to catch as many bands as possible. Luckily, we didn’t have too much planned for first thing, and although we missed Vice because we were interviewing, we were able to get to Stage 2 to catch the second of the day’s scheduled entertainment, in the shape of Footprints In The Custard.
Now, you know what sort of a show it is going to be when the hall starts to fill with grown men in Lycra, tutus and onesies, brandishing inflatable penises and already happy after a liquid breakfast! If you had been expecting serious and smouldering, then this definitely wasn’t going to be your bag, however it was very much ours. What a way to start our day! The Custard boys of Manchester, got the whole place jumping instantly with there catchy and hilariously funny tunes, and even the most stoical members of the audience couldn’t help but raise a smile! Wooing us with classic tales, the boys took us through, amongst others, their great cooking tragedy, ‘Gayle Platter’, and the use of magic to conquer evil, ‘Merlin in Berlin’. Then they got a bit more naked and it all got a bit silly! Thank god Ross had a strategically placed guitar – the rear view of his pink mankini was disturbing enough for a Saturday lunchtime!!! Finishing their brilliant set with a deathcore version of, ‘It’s Raining Men’, Footprints left the entire place bouncing and smiling, and fully prepared to kick the balls out of the rest of the day! For me they were one of the highlights of the weekend.
After a swift beer (trust me we needed it after that!), it was time for a band who we would be interviewing later, Fallen Arise. Made up of members from Greece, Italy and the UK, they were the polar opposite of Footprints and a nice way to return to reality! I love a bit of Symphonic metal, and musically they were all superb. Their female vocalist, Fiona Creaby, has a beautiful classical tone, and their songs are dramatic and smouldering! For me the one thing that was lacking was a ‘stage presence’ – a togetherness the likes of which we had seen from other bands this weekend. Maybe this was part of their mystery and fitting with their genre. We did hit on a possible reason for this in our interview with them later in the day – the constraints of living all around Europe and not rehearsing in the same room being a big issue. This did however make it clear how skilled they all are as individual musicians, and it is always good to see real talent.
We had wanted to catch a bit of Codex Alimentarius, however it was interview time again, and back to back ones at that, so we only managed one song, then had to take a break from live music for a while to head back over to the media area!
We headed back to the stages in time to catch Norwegian Death Metallers, Blood Red Throne, on Stage 2. We hadn’t seen these guys before, so we were intrigued to see what they had up their sleeves! Whilst I’m not a huge fan of this brand of metal, technically again they were all incredible. I just can’t get on with this style of vocal. That said, they did have very catchy riffs and I was banging my head in a reserved kind of fashion!! If you like Cannibal Corpse and you haven’t heard these guys before – where have you been??!! Check them out now because they will be right up your street!!
Our first trip over to the Main Arena that day was next, to see epic Symphonic Power Metal wizards, GloryHammer (the brainchild of Alestorm vocalist, Christopher Bowes who takes on a new guise as Keyboard player here). They should really be called ‘Disney Lord Of The Rings In Space – The Rock Opera’ but I suppose GloryHammer is more catchy, so I will go with it! These guys have a perfect balance of crazy, tongue in cheek, humorous extravagance and undeniable musical talent and we bloody loved it! Their songs tell an epic story of fantasy, and that, combined with the brilliant musicianship and stage presence of the whole band, fronted by the extraordinary vocal of Thomas Winkler, make theirs a show that ticks all our ‘I like this’ boxes and then adds a few more to the bottom of the list! I definitely recommend anyone who needs to feel invigorated listen to this band – there electric energy is contagious. Wanting to cram as much in as possible and with time running out, we left GloryHammer a little early to head back over to the second stage (much to my distain – although I have to remember that we were there to work and not just to enjoy ourselves)!
Next on Stage 2 were another Death Metal band from Ireland – Warpath. One word – Brutal!! Wholly moly!!! I am guessing this is what Blood Red Throne would sound like if you put them on fast forward! They were harsh, ridiculously fast, growly and angry…very very angry!!!! They totally live up to there name. Again, not my cup of tea really, but they had a packed out hall of followers who were loving it, and it was easy to see that they are real crowd pleasers if that is what you like. For me, they are a bit like your aunty who talks too much – it is great to see them for a bit, but after a while you need to take a break to let your ears breath!
Our final band of the evening (mainly because we are old and can’t take the pace any more) were event headliners, Skindred. For me (Beth), after living in the dark ages, in a metal sense, for quite a number of years, it is very rare that I can actually say I have seen a band before, however I am pleased to announce that this is the third time I have seen Skindred!! I have always been a fan since they popped onto the scene in the late nineties (before I went dark) and was really looking forward to seeing them again and they didn’t disappoint. Ahead of the release of their forthcoming album, ‘Big Tings’, the Reggae Metal masters from Newport delighted the packed main hall with their unique blend of musical styles and had the whole place rocking and bouncing from start to finish. It is always a pleasure to watch them perform and they finished off the day, and the weekend perfectly.
And with that we were done. Absolutely bloody knackered, but full of joy and admiration for the range of styles, and strength of talent that had been provided to us over the weekend, even though we still didn’t get to see other bands that were on our wish list and we can only apologise to them for that! Hammerfest is now an institution and the organisers sure put together a fantastic weekend to celebrate its Tenth Anniversary. As the snow started to fall (because that is the way we do weather here in Wales – hardcore) we took to our beds again, smiling that happy / melancholy smile that you will only know if you have been to a festival. Full of great memories of the weekend but tinged with the knowledge that it was all over….for another few months anyway. Bring on Hard Rock Hell!!
Disclaimer: This review 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.
Hammerfest X – Day One Hafan y Moor Holiday Park, Pwllheli, North Wales Friday 16th March 2018 Review by Rick Tilley & Beth Jones
As we have never done press for any HRH events before, we were very excited and honoured to be asked to cover this year’s Hammerfest, especially as it was the 10th Anniversary. Due to work commitments and children, we didn’t get there until the Friday morning and, once we arrived, it was straight to ‘work’!
The first band of the day was Callus, an up and coming three-piece from the North of England. Fast, fuzzy and doomy with great riffs, they reminded me in places of Candlemass at their heaviest, with harsh vocals. As the set progressed however, they got faster, went through a Metallica phase and ended up with the speed and precision of Megadeth. They gave an incredibly tight performance and their drummer, Ryan Ormerod, was amazing. It was a great sound, heavy but melodic at the same time and they had bags of stage presence considering there were only three of them. These guys are absolutely a name to be looking out for. Apparently, there was a big run on their EP/Merch after they played so I’m not the only one who thought they were damn fine!
Next up on Stage 2 were Sergeant Thunderhoof. A Psychedelic Stoner/Doom Metal outfit from Bath who gave us a set which was a lot more melancholy, slower and angsty, but still heavy! They are a new name to me and whilst they are great musicians it felt a bit flat after seeing Callus, who were a very hard act to follow. That’s not a criticism of the band, more the fact that it takes a while for me to appreciate some Stoner bands. The lead singer has a great voice though and they were very catchy when they got going. I fully intend to familiarize myself with their material though as they have much potential!
After taking in Sergeant Thunderhoof and having a brief wander round the Merch Market in the second stage hall, we moved over to the main arena for a blast of ‘HEAVY’ metal in the shape of BallsDeep! They were their usual manic selves and were packing out the room with their loyal following. They gave us some seriously heavy grooves and an energy packed show, their own tagline of ‘Aggressive Not Progressive’ sums them up perfectly. These guys are always worth watching and the new screens/lights (new to me anyway) at the back of the stage that were being used for all the main stage bands really added to the effect.
Needing a drink and a nice sit down after the head wobbling from BallsDeep, we nipped back over to second stage to catch local band Redwood Avenue. These guys were another new name to me. They offered a more modern metal mixture of harsh verses and sung choruses… it’s quite a Djenty, math metal style feel. They were good, but for me the music needs more of a hook; it felt a little disjointed in places but the guys are only young so this will hopefully come with time, and they pulled in a good crowd to watch them which is always a good sign!
One of the ‘definite, must see’ bands we had earmarked to watch were up next on the Main Stage – Triaxis – and what an absolute pleasure it was to witness their fantastic performance at what was sadly their last ever gig. I first saw them over 5 years ago with a very different line-up but it didn’t feel wrong watching them today. Becky Baldwin is a beast on the Bass, Angel Wolf-Black has a stunning voice and Dakesis guitarist, Matt Jones, who had taken over guitar duties for this gig, was utterly blistering. Triaxis might be no more but they certainly went out with a bang and leave many great memories!
After a little break, next up for us was the brilliantly mental Acid Reign. As you would expect, they were absolutely awesome, utterly hilarious…and very very silly. A stage manager’s worst nightmare, it’s like the last 30 odd years hadn’t happened! They may be older and greyer but the energy levels are incredible, with vocalist Howard charging round the stage like ‘Roadrunner’, practicing his free running skills on the monitors and speaker cabs! Loads of younger bands could learn a thing or two from these guys. With energy coming out of every orifice they provided us with non-stop jokes and laughs, but were still musically perfect. This is a band on top of their game. By the end Howard was “totally fucked”- his words. To be honest, we were just watching them! A great set from a formidable band.
We stayed in the main arena for the next act on our wish list – Blaze Bayley. This was the first time I’ve seen Blaze with the guys from Absolva backing him and bloody hell it’s good! Blaze still has a great set of pipes and is an imposing presence onstage, Chris Appleton (who pulls some awesome Cheshire Cat grins when he’s playing) is a really underrated guitarist both in this band and Absolva, as are Karl and Martin. These guys just do not stop working and are in the midst of another leg of a massive world tour which doesn’t seem to have stopped for 18 months. The amount of gigs played has turned these four into a metal machine so tight it’s like spandex!
After the last couple of classic acts on the main stage, we decided it was time to thrash it up again and headed over to Stage 2 for Critical Solution, who are a pretty good Thrash band from Norway! They look like fairly young guys and probably need slightly catchier tunes to take it to the next level, however, they played very well live. They have been around for a while but they are a new name to me and I will be checking out their studio output considering how much I love thrash.
Wanting to cover as much as possible, we left Critical Solution a little early, and nipped back across to the main stage to catch some of German band Obscura. We were met by a barrage of seven string guitars, a six string bass, polyrhythmic time signatures, very harsh vocals and schizophrenic songs. It was pretty much impossible to see the band through the incredible amount of dry ice that filled the whole stage area and that made it difficult to really connect with them. Technically, they were outstanding, but musically they left me feeling a bit cold. However they had pulled in a good crowd and were giving a great performance, if you like that sort of thing …and there are plenty that do!
Heading back to the second stage again, next up were UK Thrashers Mörti Viventi. Having loved the album “The Day The Dead Returned…”, which Dawn reviewed last year (READ IT HERE https://ever-metal.com/2016/05/19/morti-viventi-the-day-the-dead-returned/), when MV was just a one man band, I was really looking forward to seeing Mörti Viventi as a full live band, especially as I had missed them at Uprising last year due to my interview schedule, and they didn’t disappoint. They gave us great solid Thrash, in the vein of Testament, with catchy chunky riffs, super solos and tunes that overall packed a good punch. I’d really love to see them play a full, headline set somewhere but it’s great to see them get some recognition!
So to the headliners on the Main stage…Sepultura! We don’t really need to say much about them. They are always outstanding and have been for so long. Vocalist Derrick Green has now been with the band for TWENTY years (where has the time gone?) and prowled the stage like a demon, whilst Andreas Kisser leaves you completely floored with his guitar work. We would have loved to have watched more of the show but, as a disabled person and with a girlfriend who is only 5ft and is the one trying to get some photos, due to the sheer number of people in the main arena, it was incredibly difficult to find anywhere to stand comfortably. Recently it has seemed overcrowded in the main arena for headline bands. It was the same for Saxon two years ago at Hard Rock Hell and it takes away some of the enjoyment. We both ended up getting too claustrophobic to even hear the music anymore and that was a shame.
After suffering as long as we both could in the main arena we went back to Stage 2 to watch Southend On Sea Metalheads Forged In Black, another great band who Ever Metal reviewed recently (Check out Tsarina’s thoughts on their most recent EP “Sinner Sanctorum” HERE). When we walked into the second stage arena, we were met with an almost completely empty room. Okay, most people wanted to see Sepultura, but I think something has to be done with the scheduling. I know it’s very difficult at a Festival and you are never going to be able to see everyone you want but when a band is going onstage at 11pm to literally nobody at one of the ‘big events’ of the year then something needs to change. However Forged In Black were absolutely superb and gave us an extremely tight display of great, hard hitting, old school metal, laced with lovely guitar work, excellent vocals and fabulous stage presence. I felt a bit sorry for them but, nonetheless, they played their proverbial arses off and the crowd did start to fill out a little as the set went on. If you missed them then you missed a treat!!
Other than the feeling of overcrowding in the main arena and the ‘undercrowding’ of the other near the end, the first day at Hammerfest X was an absolute blinder. Loads of great bands proving that the quality from the bottom of the bill to the top is incredible, loads of friendly faces, many people in fancy dress putting a smile on your face and the usual array of stalls managing to make you part with your hard earned cash! For us the bands of the day were Triaxis, Acid Reign, Blaze Bayley, Forged In Black and especially Callus, who impressed us massively, in fact we spent most of the day saying “yeah they were good, but not as good as Callus!” We went to bed very tired but very happy, looking forward with excitement to the next day – a day filled not only with great bands, but also a packed interview schedule!
Disclaimer: This review 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.
Mason Hill & Hollowpoint The Tivoli, Buckley. 8th December 2017 By Beth Jones 9.5/10
Having seen Mason Hill at Rockwich in the summer of 2017, when this gig was announced on our doorstep, it took me all of a millisecond to decide that we were going. Not only a chance to see my new favourite band, but also to go back to my old weekly haunt for the first time in 20 years, was far too tasty a prospect to pass on, and I had been eagerly awaiting it since. Now people who know me, will know my luck when it comes to weather and I am happy to report that mother nature has kept up her 100% record of trying to foil my brilliant plans, but as yet she had not succeeded!! So with the snow still falling and icy conditions on the road, we set out to the Tivoli ready for a great night.
We arrived in one piece and where very thankful to discover that Mason Hill and Hollowpoint had also made it! Unfortunately, Anglesey’s Bad Dog had been unable to make it off the island, but hey – two out of three ain’t bad!!
The venue itself hadn’t really changed in the 20 years since I had been there last, which was pleasing. I instantly went on a nostalgia trip, pointing things out and chuckling as a million memories came flooding back. The staff where really friendly and the bar was still reasonably priced, and it was also pleasing to see a pretty good number of people had battled through the weather to support the bands.
First up was Hollowpoint, a rock and metal band from Cheshire who supply a great mix of original tracks and classic covers, made up of Andy Cotton from Renegade, Stu Gower and Tim Hopkins from Gearjammer, Fozzy from Snakebite, and Nige Connor on vocals. I was really impressed with their sound straight away; it was very full and the vocal range of Nige was extremely impressive. They had the audience’s full attention and reeled off a host of originals and great covers at a roaring pace. Their vocal harmonies, intricate guitar work and chunky bass really filled the space and they were very upbeat and full of fun – exactly what was needed to warm all the punters up on this chilly evening. For me, their best covers where Saxon’s ‘Stand Up And Fight’, and Maiden’s ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ – amazing vocals on both and great twin guitar work in ‘Hallowed’. A really top way to start the evening.
I had been making notes up until this point, but then Mason Hill came on and I was far too busy fan girling to make notes!!! What can I say about these guys…? Hell Yessss!! That is pretty much it!!!! Once again, from the first note they played, they had it. The whole crowd was with them straight away and they played with all the gusto that you would expect of a band playing a much larger venue to a much larger crowd. They gave us a mix of old and new, playing tracks from their debut EP, along with new material that will come on the hotly awaited debut album later this year.
The thing that I love about this band so much is their commitment. Their commitment and their stage presence, and their sheer talent make for an awesome live experience. Each one of them brings something different to the table, from James Bird’s seemingly effortless solos, Matthew Ward’s bouncing bass, Marc Montgomery’s skillful guitar, Craig McFetridge’s precision drumming and all topped off perfectly with the powerful soaring vocals of Scott Taylor, all the parts sit together in perfect harmony to create, in my opinion, the most exciting new band I have seen in many many years.
They switch between the heavier riffs of ‘Now You See Me’, to the soaring ballad ‘Where I Belong’ (which is simply a stunning song by the way) with total fluidity and just keep giving song after song after song of the quality that have the potential to be great rock anthems of the future.
Just for fun, as a finale, the guys threw in a perfect cover of Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’. Yes. Awesome.
By the end, Scott said that his voice was going (not that you would have noticed from where we were sat) and I get the feeling that he had maybe pushed just a little bit too hard. And that would be my only one point about the whole night. Scott please look after that voice – we need it to go on for a long time yet!!!
In summary, although the weather outside was frightful, the bands were so delightful, and as long as there’s Mason Hill, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!! I came out of the venue a very happy Beth and smiled all the way home. Incidentally this was the maiden date of Mason Hill’s first ever tour and I am so glad to be able to say I was there. Looking forward immensely to seeing these guys again at Amplified Festival in the summer.
MASON HILL LINKS:
Disclaimer: This review is 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
RockWich 2017 27th August 2017 Lostock Club, Northwich 9/10 Review by Beth Jones, with notes and interjection from Rick Tilley
Here’s one for you; What do you get if you cross an old style social club, a menagerie of music hungry rockers and thirteen great bands? You get a top quality old school one-dayer, in this case RockWich. Now in its fourth year, RockWich on the face of it is a small-scale event showcasing some bands in a local setting, but look deeper and it is so much more than that. This was our first visit to the event, staged by Prometheus Promotions, and to say I was impressed is an understatement! I am not easily pleased, but right from the get go I knew I was going to have a good day.
The setting took me back again to my youth, going to gigs in the local Miner’s Institute and Memorial Hall, and the relaxed atmosphere created by the event staff instantly put me at ease. It is easy for people to be blasé when trying to achieve a relaxed atmosphere, but one thing that you could see straight away was that all the event staff were relaxed because they knew precisely what their role was, and were well rehearsed and experienced in it, which was a big plus point for me, being a stickler for organisation.
The club itself was well laid out and they had catered for all as everything was disability friendly, with nearly everything on one level, and seating available at the sides. The merch was positioned well and throughout the day each band had an area for their merch, which again was swapped over like clockwork between bands – so much so that you didn’t even notice it happening, but all of a sudden, a new set of band merch appeared! The bar was well stocked and the bar staff were very friendly, as were the kitchen staff who prepared a good selection of food for the hungry punters wanting to fill a gap, and everything was reasonably priced, which really made it feel like the good old days!
However, the thing that impressed me most was the standard of music being showcased on the day. There was not one band who I didn’t enjoy, even though I had not really heard many of them in depth previously, and one band in particular massively impressed me, but we shall come on to that later.
So – to the bands!
First up were ‘The Sourheads’. They describe themselves on their Facebook page as a fusion of ‘the swagger of The Stooges, the poetry of The Doors, the danger of Alice Cooper, and the dirt of Kyuss then make it bigger.’ This sums them up perfectly! The lead singer owned the stage, with a powerful vocal over rich, thick and creamy guitar sounds and they were a great way to start the day. Their look was very interesting, with the barefooted, dreadlocked singer looking slightly out of place in the band. It shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did, and it was solid. Two thumbs good from me! Their new album is out in November and I will be intrigued to see if their onstage passion transposes to recorded material.
Next – from the sublime to the cor blimey – Liverpool based ‘Black Cat Bones’. Good, punchy, riff -laden classic rock. These guys have a very distinctive look – in my opinion not dissimilar from a certain classic rock band whose name begins with Guns and ends in Roses. However, once you had put this stereotype to the back of your mind they did have a very good sound, stage presence and a performance that was tight, together and perfectly rounded! Rick got the chance to interview them later and found that their energy off stage was the same as it was on!
Ryders Creed were up next and proved that the buzz word of the day was definitely going to be ‘energy’ because they were another group of guys who had bags of it. Comprising of ex-Black Rose Cadillac members: Ryan Hulme (Vocals), Richard Clark (Bass), and Myles Cooper (Guitar) and joining forces with Lee Spencer on guitar, and Lee Gilbert on drums they were superb. With obvious influences from Sabbath, they were driven by heavy bass lines and solid drum work. If I had to sub-genre them, I would say Stoner Rock. The thing that impressed me most about them was Ryan’s vocals though – superbly rich with just the right amount of husky to make it great. Well worth checking out again.
I had a slight break at this point to take my kids home as, much as they love live music, they aren’t quite ready to spend a whole day listening to it! So I left the reviewing in the extremely capable hands of my partner in crime, Rick Tilley!
Unfortunately, due to my interview with Black Cat Bones, I wasn’t in the venue for much of The Senton Bombs set, however we could hear them pretty clearly outside and when I did get back inside to witness their last two songs I was mightily impressed. I’ve always liked The Senton Bombs brand of dirty and lively Rock’n’Roll but this was the first time I had seen them live and their music comes across even better in a boiling hot and sweaty room. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again, I shall be wearing my new Senton Bombs t-shirt with pride and I’m shouting out to the local council of their home town Blackpool to say get their name up in lights!!
Next up were Baleful Creed and they were one of the bands whose name had really stood out when I saw the line-up for the first time. Having already reviewed their debut album (and with a review of latest album ‘Seismic Shifter’ on the way) I was eager to see how the material transferred to a live setting and I wasn’t disappointed. Hailing from Northern Ireland this was Baleful Creed’s first gig on English soil and they had come with the afterburners firmly turned to the ‘on’ position. They put on a thunderous display of downtuned Stoner Rock that had the packed crowd enthralled. I count myself as very lucky to have witnessed this debut English performance and hope they return soon. Seismic indeed!
I have to be honest and say I felt a little sorry for next band Beckon Lane. Whether it was the ridiculous heat in the venue, the need for food, drink and a breather (we were about half way through the day at this point) or just unfamiliarity with the material but the crowd did thin a bit for their set. It was their loss though because, even though I was also unfamiliar with their music, I really enjoyed their Hard Rock, almost, Melodic Metal sounds. They were catchy, tight and professional. Vocalist Lewis Phillis is certainly a good frontman and their time onstage seemed to go by incredibly quickly which left me wanting more! I also loved the fact that instead of having a painted banner, the band name is proudly displayed in front of the drums on a specially made street sign.
Just as Beckon Lane were finishing their set Beth re-appeared from dropping off the kids so I’m now passing you back to her for the rest of the day’s proceedings. All I’ll add is that if the first six bands were great then what was to come was fantastic and RockWich has cemented itself in my head as one of the best one day events I’ve been to in thirty five years of going to gigs so well done to all involved for putting on such a great show!
One band I had been looking forward to, purely because they are fronted by a female power house, was ‘Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters’ and thankfully I got back in time to catch her full set. If you look up power in the dictionary, the definition should just read ‘see Beth Blade’! Holy Jeebers can this girl belt out a tune. Heavily influenced by ‘Kiss’, she confidently powered through an awesome set like a tank. She had something to say and we were all going to damn well listen! It was tight, it was punchy, it was rocky and it was mesmerising!!! It was also new guitarist, Luke’s, first show and he smashed it, perfectly capturing what Beth and her Beautiful Disasters were all about. I needed a sit down at the end of their set!
Hell’s Addiction were up next. They had obviously brought a lot of support with them as the room filled up very suddenly. They were old school and obviously seasoned musicians, who were technically very good. They had a very full sound and the lead guitarist was very well versed in complicated solos. I am however rather gutted to say that, out of the whole day, they were the band who excited me the least – sorry guys and any fans. I just didn’t feel the same connection as I had with the previous bands and whilst I couldn’t fault them technically, I just didn’t get that same emotional excitement that I had become accustomed to that day so far. Maybe I was just emotionally drained after Beth Blade!
Now doomy anything has never really been my sort of thing – I find it a bit slow and laboured and it just doesn’t float my boat. That is until I heard the next band, Regulus. Here were a bunch of guys, who describe themselves as groove-laden, riff-drenched, psychedelic heavy blues, who totally didn’t look like they were all from the same band, from the slick guitarist to the wild haired front man, who when they played made me stand up and listen and rethink some of my preferences! They were mixing doomy riffs, with 70s funk! It was down tuned and groovy and peppered with intricate solos that gave it the indulgent feel of a good chocolatey dessert and I was sold! Their defined sectioning in songs worked well and they moved between rhythms with ease. I will definitely be looking them up and listening to more even though they have messed with my brain because I shouldn’t like them, but I do!!!
Now, earlier in this review I alluded to the fact that one band in particular really impressed me. This band was the next band up – Mason Hill. When I say they really impressed me, what I really mean is they totally blew my mind with how awesomely good they were. They were very fresh melodic rock which was so good, so tight, so together and so electric that I have to admit it actually made me emotional. That has only happened to me twice before in 25 years where music is concerned. The first occasion was on listening to Queen’s ‘Made In Heaven’ album for the first time, and the other was watching Doro Pesch on the main stage at Bloodstock (mainly because I worship the ground she walks on though!) For the first couple of songs, lead singer Scott battled with some microphone issues, but rather than let it knock him off his stride, he seemed to become more emotionally charged by it and the audience could feel it. The roar of approval from the audience when it was fixed was testament to this! And boy when we could hear it properly, what a voice this guy has! His vocal range is huge and his tone is exquisite, and then there is the rest of the band. Each member oozed charisma and stage presence to the point where they could all easily be front men – even the drummer, and I was falling over myself with superlatives to describe them! Their final song of the set was a ballad, ‘Where I Belong’, which was stunningly good and left the audience shouting for more. I could have listened to them all night. The band has been around for a few years, but has gone through some changes and have only really settled in the last year, with the current line-up they have now. And it is perfection. It needs no other words to describe it. Their performance is still exciting me now as I write this. Their debut album is out next year and I am advising everyone to buy it and to keep a very close eye on these guys because, even though I’m not a gambler, I would put money on them being very big very soon. Wow!.. Just… Wow! That is all!
Whoever was to follow Mason Hill had a huge and daunting task on their hands, however this job fell to seasoned professionals in the form of the very lovely and very lively Knock Out Kaine, fronted by Mr Charisma, Dean Foxx!! Due to unforeseen circumstances, they were without their regular bass player, Lee, however they had one of their session musicians deputising and he was a damn fine player. Dean, as always, had the audience eating out of his hands pretty much straight away and they all looked happy and comfortable on stage. They have a very classic 80s American rock sound and are a great feel good band, who you can’t help bopping along with. We got the opportunity to speak to Dean before they went on stage and discovered that they are working on a new album, which we are certainly excitedly looking forward to in this household.
The penultimate band of the day were Screaming Eagles. If you like good solid classic rock and roll, in the style of ACDC and the like, then this is the band for you! Whilst we were starting to flag a bit, they kept the energy up and had the crowd really rocking out to their old school melodies and riffs, and front man Chris Fry covered every spare inch of the stage throughout their energetic and upbeat set. Grand!
Now you always know you are going to get a good show with Massive Wagons, and they didn’t disappoint for the final band of the evening. Despite the stifling heat in the hall by that point, they powered on to the stage and pleased the packed out room with a feel good, catchy, crazy show as always. They are purely and simply a great rock band who should be sniffed out if you have not yet done so!
And that was that! What a great day. It was relaxed and fun, musically superb, and from start to finish, managed impeccably, from the stage management of the bands, to the organisation of the space and all those in it. And I can say no more than that. The only reason I have given it a 9 out of 10 is the lack of air con, but that only bothered me because I am a delicate middle class twat! Superb day! Well done to Prometheus and all those involved. Can’t wait for next year!
PS MASON HILL ROCKED!!!!
Disclaimer: This review 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
Dark Beauty – The Dark Angel’s Journey Begins Live Gig Cast – 20th August 2017 Review By Beth Jones 5.5/ 10
With the ever-progressing trends of new technology comes the new way of performing live to your fans in the form of live casting “Living Room Gigs” via ConcertWindow.com. This was my first experience of such an event, but as it was still technically live, I thought I would review it from the comfort of my own home, drinking a cup of tea!
Rick had received the invitation to this event from the band a couple of months back, so we had noted it down to tune in. The band had picked the live cast time so fans on both sides of the pond could enjoy it – 4pm EDT or 9pm BST, which made it very accessible for all, and was great for us as we were able to settle down for the evening with it.
So, who are Dark Beauty? Hailing from New Jersey, USA, they are a four-piece Symphonic Gothic Progressive Rock band consisting of Liz Tapia – Founder and Lead Vocalist/Songwriter, Bryan Zeigler on Lead Guitarist, Warren Helms on Keys and Dan Granda on Drums/Percussion. Their first album, ‘Fall From Grace’ was released in 2014.
The performance for this event was a stripped back version of their album, with just Liz and Brian and pre – recorded backing tracks from the rest of the band.
The proceedings began with Guitarist, Brian inviting us on a journey of exploration to the dark and evil world of Markhum – the realm of the Dark Beauty – the fallen Dark Angel. The idea of the story is very good, although I am not sure that it transmitted brilliantly through this performance. The lack of lighting and clumsy backdrop meant that the mystique of the performance was somewhat lost.
That said, musically both Liz and Brian are clearly technically very accomplished and had obviously worked very hard to make sure that their live sections synched perfectly with the pre – recorded backing that provided the rest of the orchestration. Liz’s voice has a lovely warm, calming Mezzo tone and she was able to express a slight melancholy air through her delivery, and Brian’s guitar solos were not overly fussy. Each song flowed comfortably on from the last and there was still the sense of a story being told, although I feel there was a little too much down time and talking between songs.
They also took on two covers by bands who have influenced them over the years – Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and Rush’s ‘Tom Sawyer’. These influences, along with the likes of Sabbath, were easy to spot in their performance and it was good to see them acknowledge this with these covers. It was also great to see that they obviously have a lot of passion about their music and were very excited to announce that they are in the process of recording their second album.
They also treated us to a performance of a new song which is as yet un-recorded, so was performed with no backing track, just Brian’s guitar and Liz’s voice. Personally, I think the whole set would have been better done this way, as this was the best song in their set and that, due to the limitations of this kind of performance, the rest of the set felt a little uncomfortable; There were level issues and pitching issues throughout when they were using the backing tracks – the guitar was often lost below the bass and percussion of the backing, and the vocals were at times a little flat, possibly because Liz may have been struggling to hear. As the screen was only focused on the upper half of them, I couldn’t tell what monitor set up they had.
Of course, the sound quality of a gig like this is limited to the quality of the broadcast equipment, as well as the quality of equipment the viewer is viewing from at the other end, and for this reason I am not sold on this as a medium for live performance. Yes, it has its practical merits, but to the detriment of the emotional attachment to the audience. Maybe I am just old fashioned, but for me it just didn’t quite work. I think the people in the room with them will have had a much different experience to me and I think when the band watch the video back, they will see a lot of things they want to do differently next time (which they announced will be a Halloween Live Cast show in October).
So, my final thoughts. Musically, Dark Beauty are very good. Their songs are dark, mystical and interesting, and they have a good, solid sound. But that, for me, doesn’t transmit well in a live performance in this medium. Kudos to them for giving it a go, though – you never know until you try.
I will definitely be tuning in in October to see what they have done differently and am very interested to see how they grow as a band, and await the release of their next album. Hopefully one day I will get to see them actually live and be blown away by their performance.
In summary – The band; I like it a lot, The live performance casting medium; …..erm…… I like it a lot less!
Disclaimer: This review is 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.
Amplified Festival 2017 Quarry Downs, Gloucestershire July 21st – 23rd, 2017 Review by Beth Jones Photographs by Beth Jones & Sian Irvine 6.5/10
So, as this is my first review, let me give you a bit of back story here first. I was a metal head / goth back in the late 90’s at college and loved the scene, only to be swept off my feet by what I thought was my knight in shining armour at the age of 20. Fast forward 17 years, and after 10 years of living in the purgatory of Northern Soul and Motown (I have nothing against the genre I might add, and some damn fine tunes came out of it), I am back in the scene and loving it, but also trying desperately to catch up on lost time and learn about bands I had completely missed out on whilst locked in to ‘Tears Of A Clown’!
Rick and I have been together for just over two years and really wanted to do a festival this year as a family, as circumstances beyond our control have stopped us doing that until now. The obvious choice would have been Bloodstock, as this year’s line – up is the best yet, and we have so many friends both locally and from further afield who attend, however wanting to go VIP and having my two girls with us pushed it unfortunately out of our budget. I was at the point of giving up on a festival for another year and starting a savings account for BOA next year, when I stumbled across the Facebook event page for Amplified 2017, with an amazingly diverse line-up, headlined by none other than REEF!!!
I was instantly transported back to the late nineties, at the Saturday Rock Night in the Tivoli, Buckley – dressed in my ankle length black crushed velvet dress and my DM boots, with elbow length black gloves, corpse makeup and rollies made with multi coloured Rizlas on a roll, (that you could get from the hippy shop in town for a quid) dancing on tables after too many vodka jellies, knowing every word of ‘Place Your Hands’ and singing it in my best mates face as loud as I could!!!
With the family ticket priced very reasonably at a little over £230 for all four of us for the whole weekend + camping, I made the executive decisions that we were going!
As the week preceding the event progressed, the weather forecast transformed from ‘yeah it’s gonna be quite nice for the time of year’, to ‘yeah, you best give Noah a call – you may need his help!’
We arrived on the Friday at around 1pm, and entered the Ease Of Access campsite which I had secured to help Rick make it through the weekend. We ended up being able to pitch up our tent right by our car, which was a god send. Now, pitching a tent in gale force winds is an experience I hope most of you never have, but to put it in perspective, plaiting treacle would be easy in comparison! However, it was made more pleasing by the sounds of the first band on the ‘Very Metal Art’ stage drifting over whilst I wrestled with canvas. The all female band ‘Dorja’ absolutely nailed it and were a great way to open a festival! Aiym Almas, the lead singer, had a killer range and immense power and absolutely smashed a Dio fronted Black Sabbath cover as the last song, and the pumping bass of Becky Baldwin held everything together perfectly.
I thought the weather gods may have been kind to us, but sadly I was mistaken. After pitching the tent, we made it on to the main arena for one band, Bleed Again, on the Very Metal Art Stage, who were heavy and growly and dirty and damn good, especially with the tempestuous clouds building behind them. Then it rained, and everyone was sad, but hopeful that it would pass.
After hiding from the wet stuff for a bit, we made it out to see a band that Rick had been really looking forward to seeing, Tess Of The Circle. Rick had alerted me to them a few months back. He had said they would be right up my street. A real fusion of punk, indie, grunge, folk, blues and classic rock, and fronted by singer / songwriter Tess Jones. They were indeed right up my street! I love to see music genres marry together well and that is what Tess Of The Circle achieve. We had the great pleasure of having a chat with Tess when they had finished on stage and it is clear to see that he is as passionate about the music off stage as he is when in performance mode, and this is really reflected in the music he writes.
We were just settling in to the all female ‘The Amorettes’, who were putting on a great show when sadly the heavens opened on a biblical scale again and we were forced to abandon and retreat to the tent amid much swearing and cursing and hating of the world.
By 8pm that night, everything was shit. The rain had been coming down for 6 hours solid in what could only be described as mother nature’s version of a critical error that required the sky to be restarted in order to restore the programme, I was cold and wet, in a tent with a leak, with no money left and no cash machines on site (they hadn’t turned up), wishing I was at home on my sofa. The stages had had to be closed due to safety concerns and all was looking lost. I reverted to my default setting for situations such as this – I went to bed! Had it not taken me two hours to pitch the tent, I would have been packing up there and then, and heading home, but something made me stay….
And what a difference a day made. Yes, there were organisational errors, yes there were issues, and yes the insane weather made them all very stark, however, Gary Paterson, the main organiser, and his team were determined to make the best of a bad situation. Despite probably having to deal with some of the most horrible criticism, they ran around like a deranged army on the Saturday morning to try and put on a show for the people who had been brave enough and strong enough of character to stay with them. So, from 12 noon on Saturday, bands went on and although we didn’t catch them all, here is my pick of the best:
Outright Resistance: Wow! Now I have to admit I’m not massive on death metal vocals, but for sheer performance skills Paige Lee wins! Rather than letting the monsoon season get to her, she took the biblical rain and made it part of the performance and all those who saw it had a ball. Musically, they are a great band with lots of solid chunky riffs and rhythmic bass to bang your head to and it is impossible not to toe tap even if death metal isn’t completely your thing. And they had awesome fun in the face of adversity, and the audience got that.
Massive Wagons: Great punchy classic rock, which really worked well on the newly formed ‘Bar Stage’. For me they are somewhere between Status Quo and The Foo Fighters in style – just good, fun classic rock and everybody was having a jolly good boogie to them in the tent. They are definitely on my list of bands to see again very soon.
Krysthla: If you like extreme metal then these guys will float your entire armada! Very loud, very growly and very heavy. I prefer my metal more melodic, however they are brilliant musicians and have already gained a huge amount of acclaim from all corners of the metal music press. They put on one hell of a show and needed a big mention on my favourites list because they know exactly who they are and they do what they do with finesse and this makes their stage presence unmissable. YES!
Evil Scarecrow: What can I say…. These guys are THE best. They take the serious side of metal and beat it to death with a robotic space crab! Audience participation is at the heart of what they do and to see the whole crowd making the Robotatron Square, scuttling from side to side, waltzing with their nearest and dearest and beating the boss with 90’s computer games moves is something very special and it spans across the generations – my girls are 10 and 15 and they worship them! Not only are these guys awesomely funny, they are amazingly talented musicians and all round nice guys. After the show, the girls were able to meet the band and they even took them back stage so they could get autographs from every member – to say they were chuffed is an understatement, and the kindness of the band and their crew nearly reduced me to a blubbering mess.
During all of this craziness, and still a fair amount of mental rain, our solace was a cosy little tent tucked away at the end of the field, belonging to The Motley Brew. For those of you who have not experienced the Motley Brew, it is like reaching Mecca at the end of a pilgrimage! They sell tea of all varieties, and a bit of coffee too, and my god was it needed! And the atmosphere in their tent was homely and warm no matter what time of day or night it was. Directly opposite them was the London Pie And Mash Company Ltd, whose pies were the dietary godsend of the weekend. Proper pies, proper mash and proper gravy, served with a smile and friendly banter from the lads, and they are even going to do some gluten free pies next year so I can eat them and not feel crappy!
On Sunday mother nature finally decided to get her shit together and make the weather a little more conducive to having fun in a field! My Highlights of Sunday were:
Instill: (from Brazil apparently ;-P ) They were riff heavy, raw and quirky, with undertones of funk and classic rock. A real mix for someone fancying something a little different with their Sunday lunch. Front man, Hodge, goes for the smart casual evening attire on stage, looking very dapper in shirt, tie, waistcoat and jacket, but he didn’t like to take to himself too seriously and could carry a tune very well which really drew in the crowd, in the way only a great frontman can. Whatever ‘it’ is, he has it and I liked it a lot. This is a band that understands rhythm and they work really well together on stage, even though each member has a very different look, and I liked it on many levels not only for the music.
Courtesans: A hot, all female four piece from London, Courtesans are down tuned and doomy, which doesn’t usually do much for me, but they were brilliant! I am a huge fan of females in metal and rock and this was the first time I had heard them but lead singer Sinead has a really rich, deep, silky tone to her voice which I loved. Their use of electro and synth elements makes it feel really fresh and gives it ethereal properties which work brilliantly. I was so impressed by them and look forward to seeing them again.
Bad Touch: If you love a bit of classic Rock ‘n’ Roll and awesome facial hair, these are the chaps for you. I dread to think how many bottles of lavender beard oil and moustache wax the lead singer gets through a year, but it makes for a facial adornment that is worthy of icon status!! Musically they are just great classic rock – simple as. They look like they have just arrived in a time machine fresh from Woodstock and are here to revive good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. We bought both their albums as soon as they finished and have played them many times already.
Vega: I had never experienced Vega until now, but I will be investing in the back catalogue very soon – THEY ROCKED!! A six piece melodic Rock band from the UK, frontman Nick Workman reminds me of a cross between Bruce Dickinson and Tobias Sammet and I loved it. Backed up by some awesome guitar work and face melting solos provided by Marcus, and intricate drums and keyboards, I was completely blown away by their stage presence and all round musicianship. Seriously, if you like melodic rock and you are as behind the times as me, check these guys out – fandabidoziiiiiii!!!
Reef: What can I say. Dem Boyz still got it!!!! Even though at least one member does look like the Hermit from ‘Life of Brian’. I was instantly 17 again watching them, and sang along to every word. The vocal range of Gary Stringer is just formidable and his control of dynamics had the audience eating out of his hands. From the highs of ‘Summer’s In Bloom’ to the tranquil calm of ‘Consideration’, it was sheer perfection and one of the best live performances I have ever seen. My only gripe is I would have loved them to do ‘Lullaby’ as that was always my favourite song. But that is by the by. It was a great way to close the festival and I am so glad that I was there to experience it.
There were so many other great bands on over the weekend that deserved a mention, Rival Bones, Codex Alimentarius, Acid Reign, Press To Meco, Illustr8tors, Anti-Clone, Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons, Unzucht and Diamond Head (who Rick absolutely loved) to name but a few, but these were the ones that really did it for me.
So in summary, this was a weekend of low lows and awesome highs. Things that made me lose my shit: Rain. No cash machines. Rain. Not being really sure of what was happening where. Rain. Tents and anything camping related. Not seeing Torqued. Rain. Rain… Things that made me sad: The look in Gary Paterson’s eyes when I saw him running around the field on the Saturday morning, which just said ‘I’m not in a good place right now’. I felt for him big time… Things that made me regain my shit and forget why I lost my shit in the first place: Awesome music, some of the best sound quality I have heard ever (kudos to the sound guys), an amazing standard of festival toilet (always impeccably clean and stocked with toilet roll and incredibly slimy antibacterial hand cleanser!), meeting some awesome friends, old and new, seeing good British spirit prevailing in the face of adversity, tea and pies, and most of all having a damn good laugh with the people I love the most in the world.
Yes there were issues, as there will be at any festival in its first year, but Gary Paterson has stood up, admitted the flaws and taken it on the chin in a way that can only be described as highly commendable and humbling, and he should be saluted for that. I for one cannot wait for next year and am booking a family ticket again as soon as they are released. A huge well done to all involved and I am preparing already to get Amped in 2018.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones, Sian Irvine, 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
SOS Festival 2017 14th-16th July 2017 The Longfield Suite, Prestwich, Manchester Review by Andy Miles with some boring comments from some bloke called Rick! 10/10
Hi Everyone, Rick here!
I had been so looking forward to covering the 10th Anniversary of SOS Festival. There was an absolutely cracking line-up over the three days and I was going to get the chance to meet up with loads of friends that I hadn’t seen for a good while, so you can imagine how devastated I was when, at the last minute, circumstances beyond my control scuppered my chances of attending!
My immediate thought was that I would be letting organisers Lynne and Mark down. They are two of the hardest working and loveliest people I know, in fact the complete team behind SOS are amazing and it really has become one of the ‘must attend’ Festivals on the calendar!
However, within thirty minutes of starting to let people know I couldn’t make it, my good friend Andy Miles got in touch with me and said he would have a go at reviewing the event for me. Now that would be a brilliant offer from someone who had written reviews before but Andy struggles to write his name (that is a joke by the way!!) and he had certainly never reviewed or covered an event/gig/festival before! For those of you that do cover events though, you’ll know that it isn’t as easy as it sounds so it wasn’t just a brilliant offer, it was beyond kind for someone who had bought tickets and was actually meant to be chilling out with his mates to offer to help me in this way and I will be forever grateful to Andy!
What makes it even better is that he’s actually made a damn good job of the review and if he wants a job (non-paid of course lol) at Ever Metal then he is more than welcome.
So, I’m now passing you over to the words of Mr Andrew Miles who seemed to have a rather good time!
SOS FESTIVAL 10th ANNIVERSARY
Well here goes!
Having attended SOS Festival, with amazing friends for the first time in 2016, the 2017 event couldn’t come quickly enough, only this SOS was going to be slightly different as I’d offered to do a review of a few bands and the whole experience as my dear friend Rich Tilley was unable to attend due to various reasons.
Now, I’m no expert on doing this kind of thing, I’m a fan of metal music but hey… I thought ‘why not, let’s give it a go and help my mate out!
SOS is now in its 10th year and is organised by some of the nicest folk I’ve ever met. They aren’t in it for the money; they do it with love and affection for the bands and the people that come to watch great bands so Mark Appleton and Lynne Hampson please take a bow along with your backroom team because you nailed it!
For starters the venue is great. The Longfield Suite in Prestwich, Greater Manchester has superb facilities with a well-stocked bar serving a decent selection of ales, spirits and soft drinks for the kids. Food is also available and is great, the burgers and chilli were both very popular and the chips were lovely! Seating is available for the older generation who can’t stand all day and there were some really great stalls selling a variety of things from jewellery to lamps, glasses and bloody scary dolls!!
There was also a kids club to keep the little ones happy which was run by Mark & Lynne’s daughter Lindsey Appleton. Top job Lindsey, you worked bloody hard!
The Merch stands were well stocked with T-shirts and hoodies from most of the bands which were great quality and well-priced.
Now let’s not forget this is a three day and night festival indoors so there is no mud lol and you get the best part of 30 plus bands for the giddy price of £15…yes £15!!! It’s the most amazing value for money ever. Good ale, music, decent food, all indoors, £15… What’s not to like? This truly is a family friendly festival and seeing so many faces from last year just proves it’s a winner all day long! It was great to catch up with folk and chew the musical cud over a beer! When folk travel over from Belgium, Hungary, Germany, and Sweden as well as from all over the UK you know it’s something special.
The venue is split between two stages, the main stage (named after Nightvision bassist Dean Hocking, who was a great friend to many involved with the Festival and who was sadly lost to us in 2012) and the acoustic stage, which this year had been named ‘The Wizz Acoustic Stage’ after Wizz Beauprez, ‘Wizz Wizzard’ vocalist and another huge friend of the Festival and many of the attendees who passed away in 2016. This was a lovely touch, especially as his wife was attending. She was a truly lovely lady who said that the love around the venue for Wizz was amazing to feel and seeing the banner with his face on was very special!
The venue also had a well-run press room which I stayed well away from Ha-ha (Rick here…I don’t blame him lol!)
We arrived at the venue on Friday at around 6pm and I was greeted by the sight of Luke Appleton, bass player in Iced Earth who supposedly couldn’t attend due to touring with the band! However, he had made the effort to fly in from Germany to support his brother, his family and all his friends. Now that’s dedication and it brought a bloody tear to my eye let me tell you!
6.20pm arrived and the first band hit the stage. ‘I Saw The World Burn’ are a four piece metal band from the Midlands, fronted by a female singer (Katie Cairns) who couldn’t have been more than eight stone wet through and about 5″4 tall, but sweet Jesus could she growl! This was proper heavy, brutal, riff laden thrash metal and it certainly got my attention! By god she gave it her all and it was some start to three days of SOS 2017!
Next up were ‘Amethyst’ from Manchester (winners of the 2015 Metal 2 The Masses Manchester competition). They were another four piece band who were fast paced with a big bass element and big beards! They had a proper Thrash/Groove Metal sound. “No Redemption” was a great track!
Next to hit the stage were the band that I thought stole the show last year ‘A Jokers Rage’. They’ve been away from the scene for a short while due to various reasons but my god did they make a stunning return. Zakk Taylor is some front man, his vocals are superb and as a band they are tight and crisp. They bounced off each other and the crowd playing a superb set and it was great to see them get a few of the kids on stage with blow up guitars supplied by Mr Graham Horne…a nice touch, they went down well with the kids!
Now it was down to the Headline band ‘Kill ll This to show what they were made of! ‘Kill II This’ are a four piece band from Manchester who were originally around from the late 1990’s to 2004. They returned in 2014 for unfinished business. It’s certainly extreme metal at its best with a nice touch of electronic keyboards and a dash of opera thrown in for good measure! Simon Gordon (ex Xentrix) on lead vocals certainly leaves nothing in the tank, he just blasts it out! They are a top band, they played a top set and it finished Day One of SOS off to perfection!
So after a superb start to SOS Festival we were up early on the Saturday morning! We had breakfast at the Orange Tree which is fifty yards from the venue (they serve a really cracking Full English) and a pint or five lol!
First band of the day were ‘Crowsaw’, a three piece band with a really unique sound mixing Blues and Rock! I liked ‘em, they were pretty cool!
‘Damaj’ were next up. They are a four piece band from Greenock, Scotland who describe themselves as “cutting edge, intelligent Heavy Metal”! They are nice ‘n’ heavy, a little bit on the Metallica side and I loved ‘em: Fast, Heavy ‘n’ Loud!
Next up were ‘Sister Rose’, a band who were actually formed in 1978. I loved them, they sounded very AC/DC! Top draw, great sound and everything flowed just nice!
Next were a band I had been really looking forward to seeing! ‘Primitai’ featuring our Saxon brother Srdjan Bilic on guitar (Rick here-Just so you know Andy, Srdjan, myself and many other good friends are all members of the awesome Official Saxon Forum),and my god I wasn’t disappointed. Primitai are a five piece band, loud as a train and are full on Heavy Metal, just how it should be!
At this point I wanted to meet up and chat with friends so the next band I got to see were my friends from Belfast ‘Screaming Eagles’. Now I’ve seen this tight rock band a few times, Chris Fry is one amazingly talented front man with great vocals but the whole band just nail it every single time and I absolutely love them!
Now I know I’ve not paid much attention to the Wizz Acoustic stage because I’m not a massive acoustic fan however, I’ll say this; ‘John Doyle’ was wonderful. He had a really crisp voice and played the guitar like a dream!
‘Bad Pollyanna’ were up next and were class. They are a three piece Alternative band from West Yorkshire. Vocalist Olivia Hyde is a stunning lady with a lovely voice and the guy on guitar and vocals was very good.
After that it was finally the time for the headline act ‘Blaze Bayley’ backed by the guys from Absolva and Luke Appleton from Iced Earth and what a set it was, I just loved it! The crowd were right there with the guys, Blaze still has it and he lets you know he still has it track after track! It was a really polished performance with wonderful vocals and superb guitars and drums it was a brilliant way to finish the night
Now I only saw a few bands on Sunday, due to having a rather cheeky lie in bed after being slightly the worse for wear thanks to copious amounts of alcohol the night before lol! Hey it’s a festival it’s what we do lol!!
If you’ve never heard of all female metal band ‘Dorja’ then, sweet mother of god, they are five simply stunning lady’s! Vocalist Aiym Almas has an amazing voice and the musicianship is top class. I’ve not seen a soap box played before and it just works perfectly. They are truly wonderful to listen to!
Now we come to my personal highlight of, maybe, even the whole festival! It was time for Chris & Luke Appleton to take to the Wizz Acoustic Stage and ‘Rise Again’ was simply stunning! These guys are so bloody talented and so genuine! I love ‘em and I’m very proud to call them my friends!
‘Fire Red Empress’ are a five piece, female fronted Rock band. Vocalist Jennifer Diehl has certainly got a serious set of lungs, that’s for sure! They had a nice, punchy sound and some nice melodic rock vibes!
I thought from the start that I wasn’t going to be into Nottingham five piece Rock band ‘Fahran’ but I certainly got that wrong. They had a very ‘Down’ sound and I got right into them! Superb set!!
Ok, ‘Triaxis’, Oh my good lord they are just mega, there is nothing more to say really! New Vocalist Angel Wolf-Black has got some serious power, that’s for sure! She completely owned that stage and she had proper amazing hair! The drums were crisp as they come and bassist Becky Baldwin (who also plays in Dorja) totally nailed it! Triaxis are sweet as! (Rick here – The recent announcement, that after so many line-up changes, Triaxis are calling it a day next year is a big shame but I can understand why they’ve made the decision. What I can say is that they have been a pleasure to follow over the years and they’ve always been fantastic whenever I’ve seen them as well as being some of the nicest people I’ve met, whoever has been in the band!)
So we finally come to the last band and another group I had so been looking forward to seeing ‘Power Quest’ Oh my god, vocalist Ashley Edison (Dendera) is so good. This guy can sing and the notes he hit and held were biblical! I loved them, they are fast and powerful. They’ve also just acquired a new guitarist, ironically Glyn Williams from Triaxis! It’s very Ronnie James Dio with a bit of Bruce Dickinson mixed in for good measure and the keyboards worked a fucking dream (apologies for the language but fuck me they were belting)!
Well that’s it, I’m no gig journalist I’m just a simple fan of metal and I’ve done this whole SOS Festival review to help a friend out so please don’t judge me, I speak from my heart!
I’ll sign off with thanking the Appleton family. They’re truly amazing folk and they along with their backroom staff from lighting to sound to stage hands absofuckinglutley nailed it! If anyone can find a three day and night music festival at a great venue with superb amenities for £15 then good luck because you’re going to struggle!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart XXX
P.S. My hotel is already booked for next year so get to SOS Festival 11, 2018 IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING XX
Rick here again! As you can see Andy had a fabulous time and his review only makes me more upset that I wasn’t able to get to the Festival. I’d just like to thank him once again for giving this reviewing lark a go…just to help me out, he really is a good friend. I’d also like to say well done to the Appleton’s. Not only do they run one of the best independent Record Labels (Rocksector) but I haven’t seen a bad word written about SOS Festival and that’s because these people do everything properly. They are kind, considerate, and friendly plus they work their backsides off to make sure everyone has a great time. I will definitely be there next year even if I have to walk!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Andrew Miles 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
King Diamond – Kentish Town Forum, London – 21/06/2016 10 out of 10
One of the things I love about metal shows is all the different band t-shirts the gig-goers are wearing, fans of all genres brought together for their love of one band in particular, but I don’t think I have seen such an array of t-shirts as I did on Tuesday night in London for the King Diamond show. There was everything from Cannibal Corpse to Emperor, from Judas Priest to Mayhem, with even Kiss, The Scorpions and Led Zeppelin popping up here and there, proving just how popular this guy really is.
Born in 1956 in Copenhagen, Denmark, King Diamond has had a career spanning more than thirty years and his onstage antics reflect his real-life practising of Satanism, not so much a religion to him but a philosophy he has lived by since reaching a point in his life where he had “completely given up believing in anything religious.”
A triple heart by-pass in late 2010 meant all his musical projects at the time were put on hold but he was back onstage in December 2011 supporting Metallica’s 30th anniversary. He has not looked back since and having seen King Diamond just once previously, as the Friday headliner at Bloodstock Open Air festival in 2013, buying a ticket for this gig was a no-brainer. I am not the world’s biggest King Diamond fan but he put on such a damn good show then, I was sure he would again, and he did.
I arrived at the venue, the O2 Forum, Kentish Town, with a couple of songs remaining from the support band, Angel Witch, and I was amazed at the amount of people there. I know Angel Witch are not just any support band but with the venue almost full for the support, how on earth would any more people fit in for the main event?
With Angel Witch vacated from the stage, their backdrop remained up, hiding the multitude of work going on behind it. One thing this gig promised, if Bloodstock was anything to go by, was a fantastic stage set.
And it didn’t disappoint. Depicting the hallway area of the large mansion house in which the album “Abigail” is set, the drumkit was surrounded by a huge double ended staircase and balcony, huge gargoyles perched on top of stone look pillars, the wrought ironwork good enough for any stately home. Large inverted crucifixes lit up the back drop and the whole stage was given an eerie feeling with spectacular lighting and special effects.
Then, to the sound of Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, we waited, and waited, the crowd finally erupting with cheers and whistles as “Out From The Asylum” from the album “Them” kicked off the show.
With two more songs from that album, “Welcome Home” and “Them”, “Sleepless Nights” from “Conspiracy”, “Halloween” from “Fatal Portrait” and “Eye of the Witch” from “The Eye”, that was four of his most popular albums covered, and with a couple of Mercyful Fate tracks “Melissa” and “Come to the Sabbath” thrown in for good measure, any King Diamond fan could have left then and still be happy.
But the fans had come for something more. They wanted to hear “Abigail”, the band’s first concept album and a story about ghosts, possession and demons, in its entirety and in all its glory, and that is what they got. With actors playing the parts of Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’fey, the two main characters, and King Diamond, himself, acting out various scenes, the fans were treated to an aural and visual spectacular.
Musically, the band were note perfect, each member performing their part immaculately and King, known for his extensive vocal range especially falsetto, was on top form, sounding almost like his vocals had been lifted straight from the cd.
There is nothing I can say that could fault this performance. I, alas, didn’t know every single track but this cannot take away from what a fabulous gig this was. The venue must have been almost at its capacity of 2,300 and I am sure that the 2,299 true King Diamond fans there went home very happy indeed.
I, personally, would have liked to see it at a different venue, the layout not allowing for everyone to witness fully the visual displays on offer, but all in all it was a great night and well worthy of a 10 out of 10.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King 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