Matt Mitchell & the Coldhearts – S/T MMRecordingworks Release Date: 31/05/2019 Running Time: 53:22 Review by Paul Monkhouse 10/10
Anyone who has ever seen or heard Pride, Furyon or Colour of Noise knows that Matt Mitchell is one of the finest singers in rock. Now fronting his own band, he has the chance to be centre stage and to really flex his musical muscles, producing what is one of the very best albums you’ll hear this year. Sure, some of it does indeed rock but there’s much more to the MM&tC than that as Mitchell and the band have captured lightning in a bottle by combining elements from some of the finest songwriters of modern times whilst very much being their own men.
As with solidly rocky, swinging groove of the opening track ‘Black Diamonds’ and the rest of the album, the thing that really strikes you is the richness of Mitchells voice, an instrument that can bluster or caress with the best of them. There is a fair mix of both as the band switch effortlessly between hard and heavy and much more introspective fare throughout the running time of the release. Following the dark and twisting first track, ‘Home’ is a much brighter, almost poppy, number that has a light Summery feel whilst still remaining powerful.
The album is sprinkled with echoes of Springsteen, Chris Cornell and the Stones, the songwriting really coming to the fore in the way that recent gig partners The Quireboys have mastered. The woozy Soundgarden-ish soundscape of ‘On and On’ bringing a real early 70’s sound typifies this approach, unafraid of putting the craft first and not just going for an easier all-out attack. This really is an album that keeps on giving and will bear repeat listenings over the years, eschewing any dated attempts at capturing the zeitgeist or riding trends. There is also a real honesty in the lyrics, touching on very personal subjects that are obviously very close the heart of the writer, deep whilst not being maudlin. There are hints of rocking out with your mates, beer in hand, girls, cars and fun but also a quality that is sorely missed from the combined partying output of Kiss, Motley Crue and Steel Panther.
‘Unavailable’ amazes with its zig-zagging riff and rhythm that Mick and Keef would be proud of while acoustic ballad ‘Old Enough & Ugly Enough’ is prime John Fogerty in feel, replete with a soaring but tasteful guitar solo. Rockers ‘Wave Goodbye’ and Everything to You’ are gutsy slabs of glorious guitar and driving drums and bass that really shake things up before the album closes with ‘Keep Me Safe’. This last track is a definite highlight of an already hugely accomplished record, being a slow building atmospheric treat accompanied by some peddle steel and plaintive vocals. If you manage to get your hands on the initial, special edition, copy of the album you’ll be treated to the outstanding acoustic version of ‘Home’ and the equally lovely live piano version of ‘Dare You to Watch’. In a year crammed with so many excellent albums already it would be a crime not to add this gem to your collection. I guarantee it will be something you’ll love for years to come.
01. Black Diamonds
03. On & On
04. Dare You To Watch
05 Kings & Queens
07. Do You Wanna Be My God
08. Old Enough & Ugly Enough
09 Wave Goodbye
10. Everything To You
11. Keep Me Safe
12 Waiting For The Sun
13. Home (Acoustic Version, Special Edition Bonus Track)
14. Dare You To Watch (Piano Version, Special Edition Bonus Track)
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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse 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.
Trendkill – Black Moon EP Nil By Mouth Records Release Date: 14/08/2018 Running Time: 23:04 Review by Mark Pritchard 8/10
I was recently asked if I would be interested in reviewing the EP “Black Moon” on behalf of the English based Groove/Thrash Metal band Trendkill, Admittedly I haven’t heard of them for long and this is the first chance I have had to listen to “Black Moon” but I couldn’t be happier to have been given the chance to review this awesome release and I really like listening to the combination of these five tracks. They cite their influences as Pantera, Megadeth and Rammstein, amongst others, and you can hear it in the songs that Trendkill have made. I do like me some Megadeth and Rammstein so it gives me the same feeling as when I listen to those bands, but these guys have their own take on the formula and from start to finish “Black Moon” is a really good EP to listen to whether it’s the instruments or the vocals!
Even though “Black Moon” contains only five songs they are really top notch and each brings its own intensity, not just from the lyrics but also how well the band play which creates even more enjoyment! It pains me that I haven’t heard of them for longer than I have but this gives me a way of jumping right in at the deep end with reviewing this awesome piece of work. Listening to this is so good that at moments during this review I’ve just sat back in my chair, hands on my head, looking up but with my eyes closed and taken a deep breath and it just gets better and better which in my book makes it much more than just five songs! Since I listened to the EP for the first time, I’ve not been able to stop and it took me until a few minutes ago to realise there is a repeat button so I don’t have to keep re-starting it myself!
From the guitar riffs and the bass to the drumming and vocals Trendkill have found such an amazing blend in the music they make and I can feel the passion with each strum of a guitar, each hit of the drum and each scream of the awesome vocals. These guys put everything they have into their songs and I officially love the EP. All the tracks stand out but put them together and it blows the senses. I am one lucky guy to have the chance to review this awesomeness.
Now comes the tough part and that is rating the EP and even though I love “Black Moon” it gets an 8/10. This is purely because I wish there was more of it. This is no reflection on the band. As for a favourite song there isn’t one that stands because I have enjoyed listening to the EP as a whole, rather than singular songs!
I want to say a huge thank you to Jonny Stern on Guitar, Isaac Edwards on Bass, Elliot Bartram on Vocals and last but not least Corey Bennett on drums who approached me about the possibility of reviewing. I cannot thank you guys enough and I leave a tracklist and band links below!
02. Black Moon
04. Playing God
05. The Host
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Mark Pritchard 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.
Obszön Geschöpf – Master Of Giallo Dark Star Records in association with Sony Music/Universal Music Release Date: 31/10/2018 Running Time: 46:30 Review by ‘Dark Juan’ 9/10
Obszön Geschöpf is:
Remzi Kelleci – Fucking everything. The annoyingly talented bastard!
Good afternoon, sinners and friends of the Nether Face of God. Dark Juan is here to force his unwanted opinions on you and to make or break the career of yet another musician. Why do they do it to themselves? Enquiring minds want to know. It’s chance you take when a record lands on my table as to whether I’m drunk enough to not give a fuck and take it apart, or whether I’m drunk enough to enthuse like a 12 year old girl at a concert of her favourite manufactured pop bollocks. Complete with girlish screaming and wild gyrating that can only be loosely classed as dancing…
Obszön Geschöpf are from Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France. This took me somewhat by surprise, as their name implied possible German extraction or even British or American influence (KMFDM, anyone? Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid? Or Kill Motherfucking Depeche Mode, depending on whether you ask Sascha or the Lord Of Lard, The Mighty Swine Raymond Watts. I’m not being rude. That is honestly what he calls himself…) and they first came to my dubious attention as a straight aggrotech/ EBM band way back when, but like Psyclon Nine they have started to incorporate metal into their primarily industrial stylings. This makes Master of Giallo sound like a more visceral La Sexorcisto era White Zombie, with the more industrial parts of Rob Zombie’s solo output… think Thunder Kiss ’65 and Black Sunshine having violent, unpleasant, bloody sadomasochistic sex involving blades, marsupials, lube made from the fat of dead babies and that neighbour up the road who you have always thought was pretty dodgy with pretty much any song from The Sinister Urge to a soundtrack of Grendel and Detroit Diesel and you have the measure of the sound of this record. It also has the benefit of the input of 46 international artists, from such legendary bands as Annihilator, Cradle Of Filth, Ratt (fucking Ratt? Hairspray and glam? Astounding), Accept, Pro-Pain and obviously White Zombie.
I’m stopping the review here for a brief moment because this is doing my fucking head in, I’ve had a bottle of red and it needs to be vented now, before this bizarre stream of consciousness babbling that passes for review writing turns into an appalling exploration of swearing in a number of different languages… Obszön Geschöpf IS NOT CORRECT GERMAN!!! It means Obscene Creature (which is ENTIRELY descriptive of the musical output here) but it should be Obszönes Geschöpf! Yes, I know I’m a pedant, but it gets right on my tits! Anyway, thank you for your patience…
This record has bass guitar on it that could reduce mountains to their component atoms. It is more thunderous than Thor and Zeus chucking lightning bolts at each other in a mad fit of cosmic God dick measuring. Standing next to a bass speaker with this record playing is going to be an exciting new form of suicide by liquefying your internal organs, literally turning you into a bag of human soup as you sink to the floor, venting fluid from orifices…
This is music for the deranged, yet there is still groove and melody in abundance, which I am enjoying as too much industrial relies on beeps and squelches or just slow chugging. It’s a heavier sort of KMFDM at their most metallic, but where KMFDM is a shiny, sleek silver fighter jet, Obszön Geschöpf is a battle scarred, rusty matt black bomber, rumbling its way over a distant target before discharging industrial death from its bomb bays. The weakest song on the record is the opener, The New York Ripper. The quasi Lemmy (there’s no more virgins in heaven now our Lord and Master is there) vocal jars awkwardly with the industrial metal vibe of the track, but then M. Kelleci hits his stride in a rather magnificent fucking fashion and turns in the sort of dirty grooves you just want to have filthy sex to. Or is that just me? Dammit, must stop thinking aloud…
I like this record. I like it more because it is French, and France has proved to be something of a revelation in the world of Dark Juan’s musical tastes of late, what with P.H.O.B.O.S. putting out what I considered to be the record of the year last year (Phlogiston Catharsis) and also Rostres releasing the superb Les Corps Flottants. Obszön Geschöpf stand worthy of joining these estimable bastions of excellence. EVEN IF THEIR NAME IS NOT PROPER GERMAN! It’s well known to the people I haven’t yet murdered savagely that I love industrial music and aggrotech, and to have the two combined to such terrifying effect on Master of Giallo has caused me to have a sex wee and ruin my trousers. Again.
Standout tracks are April Fool’s Massacre and the final track, Giallo Forever. The former because it is just visceral, and the last one because it grooves like a mescaline fuelled zombie gogo dancer with unsuited limbs. It’s sexy but it’ll kill you and you’ll feel weird about liking it. The whole record is dirty, groovy, sexy, unhinged and most of all fun to listen to. It’s no good being perverse unless you enjoy it. You’re talking to an expert here…
Tell you what, I like my job reviewing records. Obszön Geschöpf have made it that little bit better. I hope I get a bad record to review soon. I’m being far too nice nowadays.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System gives Obszön Geschöpf a splendidly gory 9/10. Mrs. Dark Juan is away in jolly old Blighty so I’ll have the blood and entrails cleaned up well before she gets home. Although I am knee deep and now I need a new bonesaw…
01. The New York Ripper
02. April Fool’s Massacre
03. Body Pieces
05. The Moon Watches Me When I Kill
06. The Black Gloves Of Terror
07. My Scalpel Dances At Midnight
08. The Death Kiss
09. Shadow Of The Hat Killer’s Knife
10. Giallo Forever
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Pelugion – I Self-Released Release Date: 04/08/2018 Running Time: 37:26 Review by Dawn King 9/10
On 27th July 2018, Ever Metal had the privilege and the honour to premier Pelugion’s video for the track ‘Bane Of Humanity’ and now we are proud to review their debut EP “I”.
Pelugion are a three-piece rock/metal outfit from Coventry, England and the trio, Andy Sweeney, John Pittaway and Brandon Balou, first met at college in September 2012 while they were studying music performance. They started off by doing Black Sabbath and Metallica covers at college gigs, but once the college days were over, they found new rehearsal rooms and wrote their first original track.
It was then that Pelugion was born!
The threesome gigged heavily around England, they won a slot playing the Godiva Festival, which is the UK’s biggest free family festival, and signed a management deal with FATangel Management and PR, as well as releasing a music video for the track ‘Serpent’s Mistress’. This extensive gigging gained them recognition for their energetic performances and massive sound.
In 2016, they released the song ‘Bide My Time’, which was produced, mixed and mastered at Woodworm Studio by Mike Exeter, who has worked with legends such as Black Sabbath, Dio and Judas Priest, and this grabbed the attention of Wildfire Festival in Scotland, where they performed later that year.
2017 was a busy year for them. They played the sold-out HRH Metal at the O2 Academy in Birmingham, were a special guest performer at the Mosh Against Cancer in Coventry, performed their first acoustic set at Uprising Festival in Leicester (which we also had the pleasure of reviewing) and embarked on a tour with Welsh heavyweights, Lifer!
2018 saw them head back to Wales for the popular Dementia Aware Fest and they once again appeared on the bill at Uprising. They also gained a spot at Bloodstock Festival in Derby after winning the Coventry Metal 2 The Masses and receiving worldwide radio airplay is helping them on their way to becoming an international band!
So, what of this fantastic EP? Well, I think I just said it. It’s fantastic! From the opening basslines of first track ‘Monster’ I knew this was going to be a killer EP. With influences such as Black Sabbath, Metallica, Megadeth, Soundgarden, Alterbridge, Black Label Society, Kyuss and Down, they have added their own unique twist on things to produce what can only be described as a stonking sound. Heavy, sometimes sludgy yet melodic and upbeat, if this EP doesn’t have you banging your head and throwing the horns then nothing will.
The EP is a collection of the band’s recordings to date, put together over a period of three years! Some of it has never been heard before, while some of it had only been available on digital format, but now for the first time it has all come together on CD, and really is a must for fans old and new.
This has everything a great EP should. Groove-laden, chunky riffs, melodic, powerful vocals with just the right amount of grit, funky bass lines and frantic drumming. Pelugion can seemingly turn their hand to anything, from the slow-tempo Sabbathesque type tracks to speedy and more thrash numbers.
We recently set up a page on the Ever Metal site showcasing bands we support and Pelugion were one of the first to be added to the list. This was due to their extreme capabilities, talent and hardworking ethic.
It may have taken three years to get this EP out, but if this is an indication of what is to come from this group of lads, then we all should be very excited about the future of metal.
Just don’t let it take three years for the follow up!
2. Bide My Time
4. Bane Of Humanity
6. Bury Me
7. Serpent’s Mistress
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn 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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Stew – Hot EP Unsigned Release Date: 01/06/2018 Running Time: 17:13 Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King 9/10
Have you ever had that warm, fuzzy feeling of bliss and contentment when you stick a CD on and straight away it reminds you of times gone past? Yes? Well, that’s exactly the feeling I got when I started playing this new EP from Swedish band Stew. I didn’t really know what to expect as, once again, I hadn’t read the notes that came with the EP, but I was (very) pleasantly surprised.
Stew hail from Lindesberg / Ӧrebro in Sweden, forming in early 2017 and are made up of the power trio of Markus Asland on bass and vocals, Nicklas Jansson on guitar and Nicklas Dahlgren on drums. The music they play is a mix of classic rock, blues and soul, heavily influenced by the late 60’s and 70’s era.
The bands notes state that they play a “gritty and nostalgic fusion of classic rock and blues inspirations” and they are not wrong! You could almost have been transported back four decades as soon as this EP kicks in with the track ‘Might Be Keeping You’, which, by the way was picked for Classic Rock Magazine’s Best Of The Year in 2018!!
And Classic Rock, themselves, couldn’t have summed it up any better if they had tried; “spewing embers of psychedelic wonder, Stew emerged from Sweden this year with an album so far out that half of us still haven’t come back. This track is a highlight, a deep, rumbling ode to the days when metal was acid-rock and life was consistently wild.”
With groovy riffs, strong vocals (love this guy’s voice!) and swinging drums this is classic yet with a modern twist. With a little bit of blues, a little bit of rock and killer guitars, these guys have nailed the sound of the 60’s / 70’s with true musicianship.
With influences stated by the band including the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Free, Deep Purple, Grandfunk Railroad, Buddy Miles, Rory Gallagher and Spooky Tooth, these guys wouldn’t have been out of place at the great Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Despite only being around for just about two years, this band sounds like it is a seasoned veteran of the 60’s and 70’s and have decided to get back together for a reunion tour, playing all their old hits.
I loved this EP from the very moment it started and the only gripe I have with it is that’s it’s just not long enough! Just as I am really getting into it, it finishes. So, my next comment would be, I am REALLY looking forward to an album when one is done. I think that would be on my play list for a very long time to come!
The only other thing I can comment on about this EP and band is the fact that they are unsigned! Why these guys haven’t been snapped up by a record company is beyond me, but I hope they are very soon. With a little bit of support, Stew could really go places!!
1 Might Be Keeping You
2 If This Will Be
3 Tongue Tied
4 Dig For Gold
Disclaimer: This review 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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Bearfist – Smile You Son Of A Bitch EP Independent Release Release Date: 18/01/2019 Running Time: 20:54 Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King 7/10
As I was also preparing an interview for Essex based band, Bearfist, I had already done a bit of research before listening to the EP, something which I never do! But even then, I wasn’t prepared for the sonic onslaught that my ears were about to suffer, and I do not mean that in a bad way!
Screaming vocals have never really been my bag, but one thing that reviewing has taught me is to never judge a band or their music based on one aspect of them alone!
Bearfist are a four-piece band hailing from Chelmsford, Essex (so essentially a local band for me!) and were formed in late 2014. The band’s heavy groove laden songs and intense live shows earnt them a reputation that saw them grace the stage at some of the UK’s favourite festivals. To note, they have played at Bloodstock in 2016, after winning the London region of Metal to the Masses, HRH Metal in 2017 and Hammerfest in 2018.
The band, itself, was an idea that started off as a chat over a few beers between mates (let’s face it, we have all been there after a few alcoholic beverages, just most of us never actually bring it to fruition) and ended up as the “groove laden wall of noise that you hear today.”
Says the band, “we originally just jumped in a rehearsal room with a bucket load of riff ideas to see what sort of animal we had on our hands.”
They didn’t just produce an animal, they produced a monster and they have press quotes to back that up!
Says Metal Hammer, “combining weighty riffs with throat-shredding vocals, Bearfist are just metal AF.” “One of the most complete acts to play the New Blood Stage,” said Virtual Festivals, regarding Bloodstock, 2016 and Overdrive also stated of the Bloodstock performance, “Bearfist just destroy it. If we were to gauge the future of metal on today’s performance from Bearfist, it is safe to say we have nothing to worry about.”
So, what is it about the band that has produced this level of praise?
“Smile You Son Of A Bitch EP” is the third EP from the beast that is Bearfist, after the releases of “The Fifteenth Day” in 2015 and “Foundations” in 2016, and was produced, mixed and mastered by Justin Hill (ex-Sikth vocalist). The cover photographs were taken by Loki Films and the final layout of the cd had been designed and edited by band member Jon Holland.
The one thing that stands out to me about this four track EP is the sheer amount of energy that emits from it. Even with it playing through the earphones on my laptop (and the earphones not actually being in my ears!) the power is there to be heard.
The guitars are heavy, with riffs that hit you right in the stomach, and in my mind, there is nothing better than heavy guitars. The drumming is tight and frantic, with double kicks popping up all over the place and in a live setting this guy must work up a real sweat! Musically, these guys are top notch and even the vocals, which as I said are not my cup of tea, are first class, performed with a raw intensity that you just cannot but admire.
This is a raw and brutal EP that will have you banging your head from start to finish and I would love to the see the mosh pit at a Bearfist gig as I think it would be mental (I wouldn’t, however, want to be IN it though!!)
If you like your metal fierce and right there in your face, then this is an EP for you. And even if you don’t, give it a try. It will blow away some cobwebs and you might just find yourself moshing along with the rest of us!
01 Death’s Emissary
02 Destroy The Magnet
03 I’m Your God
04 Bleed The Wrong Way
Disclaimer: This review 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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
1968 – BALLADS OF THE GODLESS Release Date: 06/07/2018 Running Time: 38:24 Review by Alun Jones 8/10
Sometimes, without warning, it all comes flooding back and I’m thrust into the nightmare of that jungle. Thirty days on patrol with no chopper cover. The heat, unbearable; sweat running in rivers down my spine. Cradling my M16 like a good luck charm, praying under my breath that there ain’t no VC gonna unload a torrent of lead at me and my buddies. Trudging on, hour after hour, waiting to get back to the LZ for evac. Chukka-chukka-chukka, the Hueys overhead and the rush of wind from the blades.
Maybe these guys from 1968 were in Nam too. Maybe this debut album, “Ballads of the Godless” is actually a lost relic from those days that’s just been unearthed. Maybe 1968 invented heavy, psychedelic rock after hearing Hendrix and Cream and some of those old blues guys. Certainly seems crazy enough to be true.
Opening with “Devilswine”, 1968 lay out their ground plan confidently. It’s a mighty power groove that makes your head nod, setting the tone for the whole album. “Screaming Sun” follows and adds a more psychedelic shine, Jimi Coppack’s vocals soaring while the riffs hammer. “Temple of the Acid Wolf” adds further intricate detail, with shades of vintage Soundgarden. 1968 set about laying waste to all in its sights like Ozzy manning the Air Cav machine gun on a strafing run.
It’s not all Ride of the Valkyries mayhem however. Last track on Side 1 (vinyl lovers!), “S.J.D.” is an instrumental that provides a more reflective tone. Acoustic guitar and piano feature, in a stylistically fine salute to the classics of the genre.
This bleeds nicely into Side 2, track 1 – “Chemtrail Blues”, where guitarist Sam Orr gets chance to unleash Hendrixian guitar flourishes over a bluesy beat. It’s like that time me and my buddy chewed acid in a fox hole while under fire. The rocket traces in the sky lit up like God’s neon veins.
“McQueen” opens with some infectious bass, before melting out of a mellow vibe and into a crushing chorus. The bottom end is nice and heavy throughout, The Bear delivering pummelling yet warm playing.
Rhythms are also tight and show a groove more contagious than jungle malaria. Dan Amati on drums shines on “The Hunted” in particular. Final track “Mother of God” brings on a deceptively laid back, acid dripping feel as we finally get some R’n’R in Saigon.
“Ballads of the Godless” reveals more and more depth, thought and intricacy with each listen. On this first album, the band make good on a lifetime studying from the past masters. My only question is how will 1968 continue to evolve and add to their sound? I can’t wait to find out.
For now, it’s back to reality. No more choppers overhead, cries in the jungle and that oppressive, relentless heat. Until I spin “Ballads of the Godless” again… Tracklist
02. Screaming Sun
03. Temple Of The Acidwolf
05. Chemtrail Blues
07. The Hunted
08. Mother Of God Social Media:
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Amplified Festival 2018 Quarry Downs, Gloucestershire July 8th 2018, Day Three Review by Rick Tilley with help from Beth Jones Photographs by Beth Jones 10/10
I’m not quite sure when everybody else got back to the tent Saturday Night/Sunday Morning because, as soon as my head had touched the pillow, I was away with the fairies. This is, somewhat, a double edged sword for me with my back problems. I usually don’t sleep very well but when I do, because I’ve lain in the same place for too long, I feel much more pain. Add to that the fact that camping is not very good for me, so when I woke up on the Sunday morning, I looked and felt like Quasimodo. Once I had managed to negotiate actually getting out of the tent, which certainly wasn’t as easy as it should have been, another thing hit me…it was even hotter than it had been the previous two days. My fresh T-Shirt literally crumpled and stuck to me, the sky was shimmering and the angry red orb, that was the sun, looked like it was ready to take top billing in a 1970’s apocalyptic disaster movie. Even the bullocks in the field across the road from us, who the previous day had looked like a gang of naughty teenage boys ready for a punch-up, suddenly looked like they had been let out from an old people’s home for the day and could barely stand up straight!
Welcome to Ever Metal’s review of Amplified Festival 2018 Day Three!
Once everybody was awake and ready we crawled slowly over to the arena and immediately stocked up on water. I’m not sure it’s particularly healthy but I was literally beginning to sweat salt and this was before any band had played a note!
We arrived at the Very Metal Art Stage just as the first band of the day, Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters, were starting their set! Cardiff’s very own rock chick, Beth Blade is always a good way to pass some time and at 10.15am, on an already ludicrously hot morning, was no exception. The first thing we noticed, from the last time we had seen the band live, was that the bass player had shrunk by about 18 inches. It wasn’t the heat but new bassist Vincent Grieve! If you’ve not seen or heard Beth before then imagine a mix of Kiss, Suzi Quatro and Joan Jet, good old 70’s/80’s Rock N Roll. She has huge power on stage, a proper gravelly rock voice and massive presence plus a great band behind her. She isn’t a shy lass, certainly woke everybody up and the sizable crowd had a blast, as well as huge grins on their faces!
Heading over to the Red Stripe Main Stage it was clear that people were starting to slow down slightly, unless your name was Michael Randall that is, but I certainly didn’t want to miss the next band. Carrying on the Hard Rock theme, albeit in a Jack Daniels coated Southern style, Thirteen Stars ambled onto the stage and promptly blew any remaining tumbleweed away with a huge bang. Hailing from the sunshine state of…Cumbria these guys are so laid back they’re horizontal but WOW, they are good. If you didn’t know better you would swear they were from Kentucky, Tennessee or Louisiana. They play proper bluesy, groove laden Rock N Roll and even though, having seen them before, I know they rip it up in a club setting, they were perfect for this Sunday Morning slot, especially in the sun with a cheeky Cloven Hoof Rum! I got so lost in the moment that, in what seemed like about ten minutes, they had ambled off stage again to rapturous applause. Absolutely superb!
Just as we were starting to get all Woodstocked up and considered changing outfits to flares and one of Simon Yarwood’s shirts we arrived back at the Very Metal Art stage and I got my soul ripped out by one of the most mesmerisingly brilliant and emotionally charged performances I’ve witnessed in many years, courtesy of the utterly incredible King Leviathan. With them being one member down and not wearing their usual garb onstage there were a few mutterings from some, before they started, as to whether it would work but I can tell you now that there wasn’t one person, who watched their performance, that wasn’t absolutely astounded at the end. Vocalist/Guitarist Adam Sedgwick was an unstoppable force on that stage and I couldn’t peel my eyes away from him. Blackened Thrash Doom isn’t usually Beth’s thing but we were both gobsmacked at the ferociously beautiful music that was coming out of the speakers. To know that King Leviathan will soon be no more is a very sad thing indeed. Completely compelling and enthralling from start to finish King Leviathan, amongst an ocean of fantastic performances over the weekend, were my band of the Festival!
After the emotion of King Leviathan’s performance and also realising that, even though I had covered myself in sun tan lotion, my neck was starting to blister we found a small area of shade by the sound desk and chilled out, chatting to others, whilst the VMA stage was readied for another “do not miss” band Resin!
I’ve known some of the band for a fair few years now and having seen and interviewed them a number of times before, plus knowing violinist Emma Bennett from her other band Cadence Noir, we were really looking forward to seeing this performance as it was the first time Beth had seen them and the first time I had seen them properly live with this line-up. It was also going to be interesting to see how the, as yet unstoppable, sound team handled a six-piece band with a violin player and three guitarists. I needn’t have worried because the sound engineers nailed it and Resin were absolute class from first note to last.
Musically this is a band of ultra-talented musicians (well, cough, apart from Simon). Their songs are incredibly dark and emotional, and the performance echoed these emotions. What they do is almost installation art as well as music; with the stage being jam packed full of a motley crew of tattoos and piercings, loud shirts, and the statuesque gothic beauty of Emma. Off stage the quartet of vocalist/guitarist Dave Gandon, guitarist/vocalist Mark ‘Chez’ Roseby, bassist/vocalist Drask George and guitarist Simon Yarwood are absolutely lovely guys but on stage they are incredibly intense. This is the place where they thrive and their emotions are laid bare. Backed up by the fantastic drumming of Ryan Hextall and the beautiful violin work of Emma, Resin were nothing less than haunting, a perfect fit for the Sunday line-up and a must see if they gig near you!
Because we were covering the event and wanted to properly watch as many bands as we could we walked back to the main stage again and I thought to myself that if I hadn’t lost at least half a stone by the time I got home then I would be a bit miffed, however, it was now so stupidly hot that some people had either left the arena to find some shade amongst the trees or just stopped, wherever they were, and sat/laid down. Many had done this about midway between the two stages so that they could still hear/see the bands without moving (the beauty of no clashes working a treat). This did result in some of the Sunday afternoon bands playing to, what looked like, a thin crowd but that wasn’t actually the case, everybody was just spread out!
Next up on the Red Stripe Main Stage were Scottish Progressive metallers Ramage Inc. and, as they played, a thought went through my head and it went something like this! “Fuck Me it’s hot, how is nothing on fire?” followed pretty quickly by the realisation that something was on fire and it was Ramage Inc. Having never seen these guys before, or listened to much of their music, it was another of those ‘Why the heck have I been so stupid?’ moments! This four piece band from Edinburgh has oodles of talent and their songs are so damn catchy and dark. Equal parts melody, rhythm and power, fans of Devin Townsend will adore them, although you probably already know that as I appear to be very late to the party. On the day Ramage Inc. were absolutely superb and, since returning home, their albums “Feel The Waves” and “Earth Shaker” have been played whenever I have the spare time! They are another hugely compelling band!
While Beth nipped over to see Marc and Nici at the Corrosive Merch/Goblin Dreams Stands I ventured into the very hot and VERY crowded G’s Bar Stage to check out The SoapGirls. Now, if you don’t know about The SoapGirls they are two Sisters, Noemie and Camille, who play Raw Rock/Punk Rock tunes and they play them whilst pretty much in the nude! I got told many times over the weekend that they are both lovely girls and I’m not disputing that for one second. I’ve also got no objection to anyone, male or female, who wants to get up on stage with nothing on and play music, a prude I am not. However, I’ve heard 1,000+ bands play their style of music and play it much better. With all due respect to The Soap Girls I really don’t think they would have the huge following they’ve managed to get if they went onstage in T-shirts and Jeans. You can call me cynical if you want but it’s a promotional tool that they have used well!
By this time my body really wasn’t responding very well but, if you know me, you’ll know I don’t give in without a fight so it was back to the Very Metal Art Stage to watch a band, that we hadn’t seen live before, but were really looking forward to. I could wax lyrical about Twisted Illusion, because they were so good, but I’m going to leave this bit to Beth because her write up sums it up perfectly!
“Twisted Illusion took the bronze medal spot for performance of the weekend for me, only outdone by Evil Scarecrow and Soil. If heaven exits, this is the soundtrack that is playing! Matt Jones, Matt McDade and Mark Wagstaff are three unbelievably gifted musicians, all meeting in perfect harmony to make Prog Mecca! It reminded me of the bit in Bill and Ted, when Rufus takes them to the utopian future after Wild Stallion’s music has brought about world peace! I was absolutely blown away by the tone and range of Matt Jones’ vocals and his incredibly decadent guitar solos. It was self-indulgent and ego laden but all tongue in cheek. Twisted Illusion’s stage presence plus witty repartee and banter from Matt J made it mesmerising and they are now my new favourite band, so much so that we are going to see them for my Birthday treat this year!
Twisted Illusion – So good they make you pull a sex face!”
What I’ve heard of Florence Black, up to this point, has been really good and when speaking with people, across the course of the weekend, it was a name that had come up a fair bit as a band punters wanted to watch so it was back to the Red Stripe Main Stage to see them and we were very glad we did. A trio from Merthyr Tydfil (Hey, we definitely had to support the Welsh bands) they play thumping Classic Hard Rock, with a little modern twist, and they do it very adeptly too. Vocalist/Guitarist Tristan has an awesome set of pipes and, along with their strong melodies, this made for a really enjoyable performance. Florence Black were another great booking for a Sunday slot, especially with the good weather, and a band I very much look forward to seeing live again soon!
What I had loved about the Sunday, so far, was that the bands booked, with the odd exception, had been a little more laid back and perfect for a crowd whose energy levels were probably a little on the waning side, but if anyone mistakenly thought that things were starting to wind down, then they were rudely awoken when the magnificent Shrapnel hit the Very Metal Art Stage. Another band I have been a fan of for a fair while, but had never seen live before, Shrapnel are an utterly furious juggernaut of Thrash & Speed Metal, their sound giving a huge nod to the likes of Testament and Exodus but stamping their own twist onto proceedings as well. They sounded like a squadron of advancing Challenger Tanks and had heads snapping in all directions. I love my Thrash and this felt like a starter, main course and dessert all in one go. Rather than feel completely drained by the time they left the stage I felt utterly re-invigorated!
With a renewed spring in my limp I hobbled, with Beth, back to the Red Stripe Main Stage because there was absolutely no way we were missing the next band. We first saw Mason Hill live, about a year ago, at RockWich 2017 and they absolutely blew us away, in fact it had almost brought Beth to tears so emotional was their performance. Since then we’ve met them, interviewed them, seen them live a couple more times and have championed them on Ever Metal and we were absolutely stoked they were playing on the big stage at Amplified. Unfortunately, the heat had got the better of a lot of people by this point, so sadly the crowd was a little sparse but that never stops Mason Hill and they gave every ounce of energy they had. They play Classic Melodic Rock with a Modern twist, have great material that is really catchy, they are all gifted musically and they play with excitement and passion. They even graced us with some new tracks that will be on their debut album and they are fabulous. We aren’t the only ones who think they rock, they’re now signed to Frontiers Music and they don’t sign unless they see something special! It’s a shame more people didn’t see them because they deserved to be playing to a much bigger audience but they still made some new fans at Amplified. Part of my step-daughters photography prize was to photograph them being interviewed by us later in the day and it was a joy to catch up with five of the nicest people you’ll ever meet! We love Mason Hill!
From a photography point of view Beth says that, Misfit’s guitarist, Doyle’s band was her favourite of the weekend. ‘Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein’ is an incredibly striking subject with his sculpted make-up and hair, body of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger and towering stature enhanced by some magnificent platform boots! Musically Doyle are, unsurprisingly a bit like The Misfits, churning out catchy, Horror themed, sludgy Punk/Rock n Metal. Frontman Alex ‘Wolfman’ Story is also an intriguing character. He looked like he had sunk three bottles of Jack Daniels before hitting the stage and his banter, in-between songs, was unusually humorous with each track being introduced as ‘this one is a love-song that you can dance to if you want’ in a slurred accent, before launching into another great performance. It was too hot to dance and there were a few too many love songs but Doyle are the embodiment of US Rock n Roll excess. You feel like they should have been playing this material at New York’s CBGB’s club in the 1970’s whilst throwing TV’s out of hotel windows and driving vintage cars into swimming pools. It’s hard to believe Mr Doyle is actually a vegan! Make sure you catch them on tour!
By this time my legs were completely numb, it’s very weird walking on what feel like lumps of wood, but I had said at the outset that I intended to watch as many bands as I possibly could and next up on the Very Metal Art stage were a band I hadn’t seen live for many years…Xentrix!
Alongside Onslaught, Xentrix were always one of my favourite UK Thrash bands and it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly thirty years since I trudged into London, as I used to do on a regular basis, to buy their debut album ‘Shattered Existence’. Like many bands they’ve gone through a couple of break-ups and many line-up changes but at Amplified they were utterly superb. Bull-Riff Stampede guitarist Jay Walsh is now also vocalist/guitarist in Xentrix and he did a cracking job. They were tight with razor sharp riffs and thunderous drumming fighting for supremacy and once again, any thoughts of slowing down from the Amplified crowd were banished as necks shook and legs stamped. As the sun slowly started to dip and the inferno level temperature subsided by a degree or two, it looked like everyone had been given booster pills! This was a fantastic performance from an excellent band and it certainly won’t be years until I see them again!
Back on the Main Stage it was time for Industrial/Alternative Metal heavyweights Sulpher to crank up their amps but I had to bow out due to needing medication/water and a fresh t-shirt, however, Beth went to watch them so here are her thoughts!
“I really love Industrial Rock/Metal, I don’t know why; I think it’s the raw edge power of it. The low bass and harsh drums just get to me. I think that the band were on stage, although it was a little difficult to tell sometimes with the amount of dry ice that was being pumped out! Having not seen Sulpher before, I didn’t know if this was a normal occurrence or if someone back stage had broken the switch on the machine but it certainly added to the atmosphere of their music! Again, the crowd was a little thin as many were still in the process of finding shade/nursing burnt skin or were in the G’s Bar Stage watching the, much talked about, Ward XVI and unfortunately I think this got to the band a bit with the between song banter being a little harsher than was necessary. It was a shame because, musically, Sulpher were absolutely outstanding”
I will add that even though I couldn’t see the band properly, I could hear them pretty well (I hope those sound guys were well paid because they deserved every penny) and Sulpher sounded fantastic. Since returning, Beth and I have checked out a fair bit of their music and neither of us would hesitate to go and see them again!
We were now heading towards the twilight of Amplified 2018 but the Headline band on the Very Metal Art stage was one I love but didn’t think I would ever see live so, even though I felt like a rat with no legs stuck up a drainpipe, I was as close to front and centre as I could be. With a massive portable lighting rig having appeared on stage along with a drum kit the size of a military cargo plane there was very little space left to actually stand but when Belgian Thrash/Speed Metal machine Evil Invaders flicked the on switch it was like they were playing Wembley Stadium.
I’ve already told you how much I like my Thrash and that there had been some awesome Thrash bands on over the course of the weekend but Evil Invaders took it to Def-Con 4. Their energy levels could have supplied the National Grid, which was just as well considering the amount of aircraft landing lights onstage. Vocalist/Guitarist Joe looked like the bastard lovechild of Lemmy and the Tasmanian Devil, his scowl utterly monstrous, and was a whirlwind of adrenaline from start to finish. Lead guitarist Max and bassist Joeri weren’t far behind and how the three of them managed to circumnavigate the space available without crashing into one another was astounding. All you could see of drummer Senne from behind the massive framed kit was a tornado of arms and hair and the occasional maniacal grin. If you’ve never heard of, or seen, Evil Invaders before then rectify that now because a band that is made up of equal parts Kreator, Heathen, Holy Moses, Iron Angel, Metallica, Exodus, Motörhead and a pinch of Septic Death is a pretty magnificent one in my book! They were a perfect wat to bring proceedings to a close on the VMA Stage and I really hope I get to see them live again!
During the Evil Invaders set Beth and I discovered Rum Bellini’s from the Cloven Hoof stand and they were absolute nectar, just about giving me enough energy to walk, one last time, to the Red Stripe Main Stage!
“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…” Here we were for the final performance on the Main Stage for another band from Beth’s formative years, Irish Rockers, Therapy? Now I’m going to be honest, when people, including Beth, talk to me about music in the 1990’s I nearly always do a ‘meh’ face. However, I cannot deny, that I was proved wrong yet again! Therapy? gave a fabulous performance with a mix of classic tracks and new material from the forthcoming album “Cleave”. Andy Cairns must be one of the nicest frontmen I’ve ever watched and between him, bassist Michael McKeegan and drummer Neil Cooper they make a heck of a lovely noise!
Everyone was having the time of their lives, singing along to just about every track and the atmosphere was electric, as the angry sun finally dipped below the horizon to give us some respite. It was almost as if Therapy? were battering it into submission! We had to sit down for most of their set, because we had definitely hit the proverbial wall. My back was agony and my legs were in serious danger of losing circulation plus Beth had developed elephantiasis in her ankles, but from our picnic blanket which had been very kindly supplied by the Motley Brew and with our cuppas aloft, we sang and cheered and smiled that melancholy smile you do when you know that something utterly fantastic has happened, but is coming to an end. Thank you Therapy? for an enthralling and brilliant way to end our Amplified 2018!
If you wanted still more then Welcome Back Delta were getting ready to play on the G’s Bar Stage but, like the previous two evenings, we finished with the Main Stage Headliner. We settled back down in the Motley Brew tent and chatted to anybody and everybody that arrived and we said goodbye to some who were packing up and leaving that night. There were no words to describe how we felt by this point, we were ridiculously tired, sweaty, dirty, in pain, drained, thirsty and a thousand other things but we also felt elated, thrilled, rapturous, enthralled, inspired and intoxicated, not by alcohol, but by the atmosphere and experience. It was very clear to see that we weren’t the only ones who felt like it either. After what felt like a wonderful eternity we finally dragged ourselves back to the tent for much needed sleep.
We didn’t get any sleep because a group of people, camping near us, decided that Sunday night was party night, hey they were just enjoying themselves, but with very groggy eyes we finally gave up trying to sleep at 6:00am and started to pack up. Mercifully, but also ironically, the temperature had decided to drop, somewhere in the region of 15 degrees, overnight. Had that happened a day earlier there would have been more people watching bands on the Sunday and my neck wouldn’t have looked like a bad case of Leprosy but I can say, with a clear conscience, that this was the best open air Festival weekend I have ever attended. It may not have had the largest audience, every event has to start somewhere, and it may have been hotter than everlasting purgatory in Hades but the atmosphere was the best I’ve experienced. You all know that we are family and I have never experienced that family feeling quite as much as I did at Amplified 2018. It would take me too long to name people individually so thank you from the bottom of my heart…you all know who you are!
I’m only going to mention one name because without his vision, drive and stubbornness Amplified wouldn’t have happened in the first place and, after last years debacle, it certainly wouldn’t have got to year two without his bloody mindedness. Gary Paterson take a bow and make sure you have a rest because Amplified 2019 is going to be even bigger and better, I’m not sure how but it will be! Links:
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 all parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Shrapnel & Therapy? Photographs courtesy of Sian Irvine Photography https://www.facebook.com/siankirairvinephotography/
All other photos courtesy of Beth Jones https://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages/