Ashen Reach – Tear It Down Single/Video Release Date: 18/11/2019 Review by Rick Tilley
So this is a review for a single and…yes…I know we don’t usually do single reviews (so don’t all rush asking for one) but there are a couple of reasons why I wanted to write this. Firstly, Merseyside Hard Rock/Metal band Ashen Reach are going to be the next band added to our ‘Bands We Support/Bands To Look Out For’ page and secondly they’ve been through a very up and down year!
In 2018 they won the Merseyside M2TM competition leading to a slot at Bloodstock Festival. We first saw them gig last December, supporting Twisted Illusion in Manchester at the Academy 3 (which was the last gig under their previous band name Equinox), and we were VERY impressed with them. Then came the name change to Ashen Reach, the release of two new songs at the beginning of 2019 and then the wonderful news that they would be supporting Bullet For My Valentine for two dates in Russia. Those gigs, in April, went down a storm and just as things looked like they were taking off the band announced that vocalist Dan and guitarist Ian were leaving the band for various reasons. That news would have sent many bands spiralling in the wrong direction, and I will admit I was a little concerned for a while, but drummer Jess Stanley, guitarist Paddy Cummings and bassist Mike McCarroll are made of sterner things and begun the arduous task of finding replacements. In June guitarist Joe O’sullivan joined and in August new vocalist Kyle Martyn Stanley was announced. Since then the new line-up have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to get ready for new gigs and ‘Tear It Down’, the first single from their debut album which is due in Spring 2020.
If anyone out there is worried about how Ashen Reach now sound then banish that thought from your head immediately because ‘Tear It Down’ is an absolute barnstormer of a track. Cracking riff, soulful verse, catchy and heavy as thunder chorus, perfect middle eight, wonderful guitar solo, a superb vocal performance and stunning production with everyone clearly heard in the mix. It immediately gets stuck in your head and you’ll find yourself humming it without realising. The accompanying video is a standard performance one but well filmed and it is clear every member of the band put their all into making it!
As far as I’m concerned this is a clear ‘statement of intent’ from Ashen Reach. They’ve learnt from the events of this year and have hit the ground running. 2020 is going to be a huge year for them!
‘Tear it Down’ is released on 18th November and the band are playing a ‘Single Launch Show’ at the Alchemy Bar, Runcorn on 23rd November which I heartily suggest you get to if you can. I’m certainly going!
Enso Music Management:
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Twisted Illusion & Friends Excite The Light Tour 2019 The Zanzibar Club, Liverpool 12/05/2019 Review By Beth Jones with nonsensical ramblings by Rick Tilley
It is a little under 5 months since we saw Twisted Illusion last, and it is safe to say a lot has happened to the band in that time, from the shock announcement of two of its three members departure, to Matt, the life blood of TI, soul searching and wondering if it was all worth it, to being on the road touring and recording the second part of the ‘Excite The Light’ Trilogy, and now, as of last Friday, becoming a band again, after the confirmation that the line up of musicians guesting on the tour have now decided that it worked so well straight away, that TI (version 2.1.1) has been born, and that this is the new line-up! We couldn’t wait to see how they were doing as a group, given the short space of time that they have been working together.
Now to start, but as a bit of an aside, I will say that I liked driving in Liverpool far more than I liked driving in Manchester, and I managed to navigate without any bus lane infringements, so already this was good! We arrived at the venue a little after the first band started, but still with enough time to get a good feel for them. A quick look around the venue let me know that it was going to be a down to earth place. It was a good old, no bells and whistles, grass roots venue, which to me is the perfect way to enjoy music. You don’t need fancy bollocks when the tunes are top quality! Anyway, enough of this – to the music!
Although we only caught two-thirds of these guys’ set, what we heard was pretty good; Gruff, chunky, and in places fairly intricate. They are quite melodic too, which I like. I am going to call it Melodic Prog Stoner Doom! They were a good way to start the night, but my only criticism is there was too long between songs. I’m nit picking, but this is one of my bug bears. I know you have to tune and stuff, but you need to fill that time or people’s attention wanders! Musically though, they know what they are doing and what sound they want to achieve.
Fresh from their amazing gigs in Russia, supporting Bullet For My Valentine, these guys were stoked for a good show. Having seen them support Twisted Illusion at Christmas last year (when they were called Equinox), we knew what they were about, and that we liked it! They didn’t disappoint! They are so full of youthful exuberance, of which we are very jealous, and they hammered straight into a full-on set, with powerful vocals, fast paced melodies, and chunky rhythms. They are a good, solid, classic hard rock band, and they make you happy. Lead singer, Dan Moran, has such a presence on stage plus pulls some spectacular faces and drummer Jess Stanley is a whirlwind of arms behind the kit! We were chatting to them afterwards and they are such awesome and humble people, and we wish them every success moving forwards.
These guys are a name who, up until three weeks ago, I hadn’t come across (Rick is familiar with the name but hadn’t seen them live before). Having now seen them twice in the space of a month we would like to report that they are blisteringly good! If Dream Theater and Linkin Park joined forces, this is what they would sound like. Incredibly intricate rhythms, modern rasping vocals, mixed with clean harmonies, and stunning solos. They do remind me a bit of Killswitch Engage, who I also love. Why these guys aren’t bigger is beyond me. And again, they are thoroughly nice chaps too – Rick very much enjoyed having a chat and sharing a fig roll with lead singer Andy Barker, after they had come off stage! I was jealous. I love fig rolls. Damn you gluten intolerance!!
After seeing these guys at Badgerfest last year, I knew they were heavy. I had found them a little too heavy for me on that occasion, but I think it might have been because it was later in the day, and I was knackered, and the sound wasn’t great. Here, I enjoyed them a lot more, and had more time to concentrate on what they were doing, which was very heavy prog metal done very well. Lead singer, Danny Daemon, is an absolute unit, who looks incredibly menacing in the mood lighting on stage! He makes guitarist Christian Hickson (also of Frozen In Shadows) look much small, which is quite an achievement! Musically though they are very, very tight and look completely at ease performing. A very good main support.
In what seemed like no time at all, we were at the pièce de résistance, and what we had all been waiting for – the new look, five-piece, Twisted Illusion. Straight away, before they even started playing, there was an air about them. They looked comfortable, relaxed, and ready to put on a show! And Christ is that what they did, right from the first note! Now, we all know that Matt Jones is a formidable front man, and that Saxon Davids can play a bit of guitar, but not having seen the newly added Cici Powell – Melkonian, Chris Jenkins and Andy Gotteri before, our mind were blown within about 30 seconds by how good they all were as individuals, but also how amazing they sounded together as a collective. This was not the sound of a band that had only had a few weeks rehearsal time, this was the sound of a band who were seasoned pros, who had lived in each other’s pockets for years, and who had more experience than any of these baby faced cherubs kicking it on the stage! This should not be possible – but yet here it was, with a sound so massive and together, it can only be described as pure raw talent, combined with a deep love and understanding of live performance, and with a bit of help from fate, to make a Utopian level musical experience. They were a bit good!!! Matt’s songs came alive with the addition of Andy’s keyboards, and Cici looked like she had been born with a bass in her hand – her skills absolutely blew us away, and her constant smile is infectious. Add to that the masterful percussion of Chris, executing the demanding rhythms to perfection, and of course the immense noodling abilities of Saxon and huge vocals of Matt, and you have the perfect recipe for putting me into a euphoric trance. I was welling up by the end of their set and was so ridiculously happy that it sounded this amazing. Better than I could ever have expected. It was like witnessing the birth of something truly special. Quite simply stunning! Rick, who felt the same, spoke to Matt afterwards, to tell him that, as a live experience, what he had just seen was, for him, right up there with the live performances of early Queensryche (circa “Operation Mindcrime”) and Rush! These guys should not be playing small venues like this, they should be touring arenas. They are that talented. The world now needs to know who Twisted Illusion are. Always remember that every huge band started in a back-street pub. The sky is the limit now guys.
That was a very, very special night and is going to take some topping! Currently, festivals aside, we have nothing on our radar that we can see coming close, until we go and witness Devin Townsend at Manchester Royal Albert Hall in December!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones, Richard Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
All photos courtesy of Beth Jones and PhotograBee Images https://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages/
Twisted Illusion + Midnight Prophecy, Equinox (now Ashen Reach) & John Ainsworth Manchester Academy 3 21st December 2018 Review by Beth Jones
The 21st of December is always my favourite day of the year, because it is my birthday! So, you can imagine my joy when I discovered that my band of the year was doing a big gig in Manchester on that very day. We had hotly awaited it for months. It got to within one week of the gig and Twisted Illusion dropped the bombshell that Matt McDade and Mark Wagstaff (the brilliant rhythm section of the band) were calling it a day as they felt they couldn’t give the level of commitment that was needed to fulfil their increasing schedule, and frontman Matt Jones got a bad case of laryngitis. I was beyond mortified. I had visions of the show being cancelled and my new favourite band becoming a memory. But being the consummate professionals they are, they insisted that the show would go on!
So off we set to Manchester. Getting there was….err…..fun! If you have never been to the Academy 3 (like me) it is like finding a needle in a very confusing haystack of bus routes and one-way systems. I may have got a ticket for driving in a bit which was busses and taxis only, and I may have ended up on the wrong side of the road at one point and narrowly missed getting hit by an oncoming bus, but Jesus was it worth it when we finally got there! (Rick here – I’m still shaking!!!)
The evening started with a mesmerising solo performance from a young guitarist by the name of John Ainsworth. He is a very slight and unassuming chap to look at, no different from the next person in a crowd, but put a guitar on him and magic happens! What that guy can do with his old, slightly battered semi acoustic is unreal! It is as if he was born with it strapped to him. He makes it sound like a complete band, and his musical creations are as intricate and complex as they are zany and pleasantly disturbing! This blew my mind and reminded me why I love live music so much. What a stunning way to start off the evening.
Next up were Equinox. It turns out this was their last gig with that name, as they have now rebranded and become Ashen Reach! By now the room was pretty full, and the crowd were loving the unique, Hard Rock/Melodic Metal sound that was being unleashed from the stage. Their set was full on, lively and fun, and they were all having a ball on stage. Their female drummer, Jess Stanley, was positioned to the front of the stage, which was great to see. Usually it is impossible to get good pictures of drummers from the front, but not here! She was really interesting to watch as she has a very unusual technique, playing open handed a lot and holding the sticks really high up. They were superb! The vocals of Daniel Moran were soaring, but with a great crunchy, growly tone that fitted their style so well. This was a real party. Everyone was smiling and having a great time, all knowing that this was a special night. They brought it down for their last number to say a farewell to their Equinox days in readiness for chapters new, and it was obvious that this was a big thing for the band, with Daniel getting quite emotional. Deservedly so – it was a cracking performance full of heart and spirit. It will be good to see what Ashen Reach now bring to the table!
Our main support for the evening was Midnight Prophecy. The best way I can describe these guys is good old bacon and eggs British Heavy Metal. They were basically a brilliant, young, Iron Maiden with lead singer, Craig Cairns, having the sound and power of Bruce Dickinson, but a lot more hair! They were flipping brilliant!! One of their guitarists also looks like a giant Viking and pulls the best guitar faces ever! So much energy, so much stage presence, so much charisma! They have a real connection as a band that is old and wise beyond their years. Their set was fast paced and electrifying, and the audience were bouncing. The evening up until this point had been spectacular and had gone by so quickly that I was almost sad that it would all soon be over.(Rick here again – Based on this performance I’m REALLY looking forward to see Midnight Prophecy again at Amplified Festival in July)
All too quickly came the last performance of the evening, and the reason why most of us were there. Twisted Illusion, with the added extra of a young talent by the name of Saxon Davids (ex Kaine) joining them on guitar, and their ‘roadie on the night’ and occasional extra member, Voodoo Blood’s Chris Norris, joining them on upright bass. We had spoken to Matt Jones earlier in the evening and his voice was still a bit spannered, but he was determined to give us a brilliant show, so called on the services of Craig from Midnight Prophecy to sing some of the songs with them, and he sang harmonies an octave lower. It is scary to try and comprehend the talent of Matt Jones, as him on a bad day was still immense! THIS is what music really is; proper music. I found myself just standing, with my head back and my eyes close, letting the music eat me, with a huge grin on my face. There are a very small number of bands that have this effect on me, notably Queen and Devin Townsend; they are the bands that make me just have to stop and do nothing, just let the music in. Twisted Illusion are now on that list. Every song, new and old was an absolute smasher – ‘Excite The Light’, ‘Hatred Is A Virtue’, ‘Medicated Society’, ‘No Compromise’, the brilliant cover of ‘The Spirit Of Radio’ by Rush (EEEEK it was soooo good), I could go on, but I would end up just listing the whole set list! It has taken me a couple of weeks to be able to organise my thoughts on this gig, because I simply cannot put into words how bloody good Twisted Illusion are. Every single note, every pause, every rhythm change is perfectly placed and there for a reason, and it just makes me so happy to be able to experience it. I can’t even make one of my usual quips about it, because it was too good. Whilst it is extremely sad that Mark Wagstaff and Matt McDade are not continuing in the band, Matt Jones has vowed to carry on in 2019, with a full tour announced, and the release of the remaining parts of the Excite the Light Album Trilogy, and I am super excited for this!
My words do not do these four fabulous performances justice. Seriously if you get even the smallest chance of getting out to see Twisted Illusion, or any of the other bands on this bill, do it – you will not regret it. All that I have left to say is thank you – a massive heartfelt thank you to all the acts, for making my birthday a very special night that I will remember for a very, very long time.
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.
All photos courtesy of Beth Jones and PhotograBee Images https://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages/