Skinflick – The Year Of The Fuck EP Self-Released Release Date: 19/07/2020 Running Time: 12:32 Review by Beth Jones 8/10
It’s review day here at EMHQ! Or it is for me anyway – Rick’s posting news! Next up for my listening pleasure, a jaunty little three-track EP from industrial techno project, Skinflick! I, and many others, know this crazy one-man artist for his work in another one of our favourite bands (It’s Justin Williams, vocalist with Lullaby For a Unicorn), but Skinflick is his little side project, delving into the sleezy world of dirty techno. As this is only a small release, I’m going to give you my take on each track.
The EP title track is up first. It reminds me of the sort of music that is always playing in ‘trendy cybergoth/steam punk’ clubs in futuristic edgy films – you know the ones; always in a basement, through an unmarked door, lit purely with UV light, which conveniently hides all the dark corners! It’s obviously very synth driven, but it has a real punch to it. Vocally, it’s early Marylin Manson-esque, which also doesn’t displease me! Kind of a whispery scream, which gets the message across with enough mystique and sleaze!
Track two, ‘Kustom Kar Kollision’, has quite a Gary Numan feel about it musically – I’m guessing from the title, this may be deliberate! Again, its full of fuzzy bass and synth wizardry, and a continuation of the tortured vocal style. It goes off into a breakdown halfway through which is massively 80’s synth inspired, but I love it!
The final track, ‘Bootlickers’, is slightly faster, and probably my favourite of the three. With a nice pulsing beat, and bass driven melody, we get to hear the full tormented delights of the vocals, and it peaks and troughs just in the right places. This is definitely the tune playing in the back rooms of the aforementioned clubs, where you’ll likely find a dominatrix and some dude in a gimp mask and leather straps!
This little EP is pleasingly very well produced, too. The balance of sounds is spot on, and the instrumentation is great, considering it’s a solo project. My main criticism is that I want more of it! Three tracks isn’t enough!
If you like anything remotely techno/cybergoth/industrial/Gary Numan, then you’ll like this!
TRACKLISTING: 01. Year Of The Fuck 02. Kustom Kar Kollision 03. Bootlickers
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.
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview
with Bulgarian Industrial band Abysmatic. Huge thanks to singer-songwriter,
Dennis Nikov, for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you
tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
My name is Dennis Nikov,
I’m the producer-singer-songwriter for Abysmatic, a three-piece industrial band
from Sofia, Bulgaria. Completed by Hristo Simeonov on guitar and Dobromir
Vulkov on drums, the band had its first official release in 2013 and has since
released 2 LPs, numerous singles, and has been a constant presence in the
Bulgarian alternative scene. We just recently released our definitive
self-titled album, a single from which was picked up by Bulgarian national rock
radio, and which in turn led to us landing local opening spots for artists like
Combichrist and Leeroy Thornhill (ex-The Prodigy).
How did you come up with
your band name?
Abysmatic is a combination of the words “abysmal” and
“automatic” and sort of refers to the Fibonacci sequence spiral, which in turn
could be seen as a symbol for the passage of time and the inevitability of
death. It also obviously refers to the depths of hell and has some Satanic
What country are you from and what is the Rock/Metal scene
There is a thriving
underground metal, punk and hardcore scene in Bulgaria, however everything is
very DIY and there’s almost no mainstream outlet for heavy music. There are no
big rock and metal labels and it’s very hard for a new band to develop an
audience, but there’s definitely a demand for quality alternative music.
What is your latest
release (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Our latest release is Abysmatic’s definitive self-titled
album, which features a unique mixture of industrial metal and old school rave,
and lyrics written entirely in Bulgarian. Check it out if you want to hear a
truly rare combination of styles coming from the weirdest of places.
Who have been your
We all grew up during the late nineties and obviously the
nu-metal era, so the likes of Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, Static-X, Limp
Bizkit, Rammstein, Marilyn Manson etc. definitely shaped us musically. All of
them incorporated guitars and synths or programming in some way, which we took
to heart, and really decided to run with.
What first got you into
For me it was when I got
my first Walkman and the soundtrack of the movie The Matrix on tape.
If you could collaborate
with a current band or musician who would it be?
We’d definitely love to do something
with our hero Liam Howlett from The Prodigy, and with a lot of other UK bands
and artists actually. Bring Me The Horizon, Chase & Status, Ocean Wisdom,
IAMDDB… The UK is where it’s always been at musically.
If you could play any
festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
There’s a festival not
too far away from us actually, called Electric Castle. It’s in Romania and it’s
held in a medieval Transylvanian fortress. The line-up is always super diverse
but heavy, and it’s just our cup of tea.
If you had one message
for your fans, what would it be?
Our latest album
actually sort of has a unified message, and it’s to believe in one’s power to
do it all on their own.
If you could bring one
rock star back from the dead, who would it be?The three that I miss
the most are Keith Flint from The Prodigy, Chester from Linkin Park and Wayne
What do you enjoy the
most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
When you think about it,
music is probably the most visceral art form, as it’s the only thing that can
just set your mood instantly on its own. Just being able to create something
like that feels like magic. What I hate is having to deal with the business side
If you could change one
thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I’d probably make trap
illegal at this point.
Name one of your
all-time favourite albums?
The 2 albums that just
instantly come to mind are Limp Bizkit’s “The Chocolate Starfish And The Hot
Dog Flavoured Water” and Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory”.
What’s best? Vinyl,
Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Well, obvious any
physical medium is a lot better than downloads, but you can’t beat the
convenience of having all your music in your pocket.
What’s the best gig that
you have played to date?
in our hometown was probably one our most exciting shows.
If you weren’t a
musician, what else would you be doing?
Well, the reality for
most middle tier artists is that you shouldn’t really quit your day job, as the
music industry is tough, especially for niche alternative bands such as
ourselves. That’s why all of us actually have separate careers in software
engineering, graphic design and finance.
Which five people would
you invite to a dinner party?
The other two guys from
the band and three hookers!
What’s next for the
currently working on a couple of new singles, and videos, and are hoping to hit
the festival circuit this summer.
Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Thank you for your time.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you and keep rocking!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
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.
Elyose – Reconnexion Elyose Records Running Time: 46:18 Release Date: 27/09/2018 Review by Paul Monkhouse 9/10
Female fronted rock has been a real mainstay of the European metal scene with Scandinavian countries seemingly having the monopoly on the symphonic and epic sound. French band Elyose have decided to go their own path and mix all the best elements of Lacuna Coil along with elements of both Rammstein and (whisper it) the heavier moments of Baby Metal but with their very own Gallic twist (most of the vocals are in French). Their new album “Reconnexion” is truly one of the best albums I have heard this year and puts them in the same league as their more widely known neighbours.
Opening with a driving drum and bass attack ‘Un Autre E’Te’ kicks off the album in fine style, Justine Daaé’s desperate and aching vocals leading into an epic chorus. With the industrial heaviness of the aforementioned Rammstein and the melody of Ghost, the music really motors along and the guitar break hits like a punch hard in the face. This song would be absolutely massive live.
In a switch, ‘Psychosis’ is sung in English and is the first to feature a guest vocalist, in the case Mark Jansen (Epica) whose growls add a truly brutal edge and a brilliant contrast. Okay, this mix of sweeter female vocals matched against the rough, hewn caveman like tones of a male has been done many times before but rarely this well and shows a real growth of the band into heavier territory than previous releases. More furious fretwork accompanied by washing synths into a punchy and powerful chorus lift ‘De Tout La-Haut’ past the normal third track slump that some albums suffer from and a gentle piano and vocal breakdown comes as a welcome left field move in the song.
More guest vocals come during later tracks in the album and there are so many nice touches and twists that makes this album an utter joy to sit and PROPERLY listen to. Any potential language barrier is totally forgotten as the music crushes and excites whilst the synths and vocals sweep you along over the top of the adrenaline-soaked riffing and pounding rhythm. ‘Mes 100 Ciels’ mixes industrial metal with an almost nursery rhyme pop chorus that Tobias Forge would be happy with, showing how they have been listening and taking in other influences whilst percolating their own unique brew.
‘La Veuve Noire’ is all dirty rock ‘n’ roll and would have been the most straightforward rocker of the album if it hadn’t been for the rampaging fury lithely evolving into what could be easily imagined as the soundtrack for a sci-fi film trailer whilst losing none of its excitement or heaviness. Closing the album with ‘Contretemps’, an acoustic gem that features just guitar and vocals lets the latter shine and is a typically brave move that brings another brilliant colour to their sound palette.
Far from your straight-ahead metal album, this one will grow and grow on you. If you are willing to take a chance on something just a little different “Reconnexion” will repay your investment many times over. Utterly magnifique!
01. Un autre été
03. De tout là-haut
05. Folle alliée
06. Mes 100 ciels
07. À coeur perdant
08. La veuve noire
09. Les mots qui me viennent
10. Contretemps (Acoustic)
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.
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: https://www.facebook.com/amplifiedfestivalUK/
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.