Amplified Festival 2018, Gloucestershire, July 8th 2018, Day Three

00 Day3 Lineup

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!

01 Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters Day3.jpghttps://www.facebook.com/BBATBDofficial/

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!

02 Thirteen Stars Day3https://www.facebook.com/ThirteenStars/

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!

03 King Leviathan Day3https://www.facebook.com/KingLeviathanMetal/

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!

04 Resin Day3https://www.facebook.com/resinonline/

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!

05 Ramage Inc. Day3.jpghttps://www.facebook.com/RamageInc/

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!

https://www.facebook.com/thesoapgirls/

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!”

06 Twisted Illusion Day3https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTIband/

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!

07 Florence Black Day3https://www.facebook.com/florenceblackUK/

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!

08 Shrapnel (Sian Irvine)https://www.facebook.com/ShrapnelOfficial/

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!

09 Mason Hill Day3https://www.facebook.com/masonhillofficial/

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!

10 Doyle Day3https://www.facebook.com/OFFICIALDOYLE/

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!

11 Xentrix Day3https://www.facebook.com/xentrixmetal/

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!

12 Sulpher Day3https://www.facebook.com/SULPHERMUSIC/

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!

13 Evil Invaders, VMA Stage Headliners Day3https://www.facebook.com/evilinvaders/

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!

14 Therapy (Sian Irvine)https://www.facebook.com/Therapyofficial/

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/

https://www.instagram.com/amplifiedrocks/

15 Amplified Logo

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/

Scars of Remembrance Wrexfest, Atomic, Wrexham, 28/07/2018

01 Scars Of Remembrance

Scars of Remembrance
Wrexfest, Atomic, Wrexham 28/07/2018
Review by Beth Jones

Having been the original founder of Wrexfest in 2013, then passing the baton to Brendan a few years back due to all sorts of personal garbage, it seemed only fair that we at least caught some of it this year. The festival has grown steadily year on year, and has now spread out to a few venues, so when Brendan said that the Saturday night at Atomic was going to be metal, we swore to drag our broken asses out of the house, mainly to watch one of our stand out bands of the year, CALLUS, but also to check out some local names that we hadn’t seen before.

When we arrived we found that, due to various issues, two of the proposed line up were not able to make it, which was a shame, however it did mean that we had two bands with extended sets to watch before the very diverse headliners, Glove. CALLUS, and a new name to us, local band Scars Of Remembrance.

After buying a drink and mingling for a few minutes, a familiar face – Karl Ditcher, a long-time friend of my brother’s, came up to me and asked if we were coming up to watch his band play. Now I didn’t even know he played, let alone that he was in a band, so this made the prospect all the more interesting! On arriving upstairs, I was met by another familiar face, local super sound man, Mike Edwards (one of the only people I know who can get the sound spot on in Central Station), only this time he wasn’t behind the sound desk, he was sound checking with the band – double whammie surprise!! After a quick chat, we discovered that it was Mike’s first gig with the band, and that he had only been their vocalist for a couple of months!

So, without further ado, to their set. Their Facebook page has their genre as ‘Metal’ – not much to go on there – and knowing that the bill for that night had appeared to be somewhat diverse, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised! For a band that haven’t done much gigging together in this guise, they were extremely tight and extremely talented, and Mike did an excellent job, especially as it was his first gig.

They have a quite hardcore sound – solid, punchy drums from Ben Burke, and treble heavy, overdriven, crunchy rhythm guitar and intricate lead from Mark Harris and Daniel Dawson, enhanced by Mike’s raw scream vocals and some big fat full on bass licks from Karl (who I now know can play a damn fine bit of bass!), but also riff sections that wouldn’t be out of place in any modern thrash outfit; a nicely blended mix of styles, which was good to see. I feel the same about hardcore as I do about thrash – sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it and there is no in between, so for them to turn my head is quite an achievement, and with a bit more practice and gig time with this line-up, I really think they are on to something good here.

Having now watched some video clips of older performances, it is plain to see that they certainly have a lot more energy and confidence on stage now – or they certainly did in this performance anyway, and that Mike has definitely brought a new aspect to the band. It is very pleasing to see a new, or at least new look metal band from Wrexham pop up, because the metal cup has been quite dry round here in recent years. It is even more pleasing to see that they have a really good idea of who they are as a band and seem to be eager to progress with it now. When we spoke with them after the gig, we suggested that they should try and get on the bill for the M2TM heats next year, as I think they would enhance any bill, and have the added bonus of being local!

I will certainly be putting them on the list of bands to follow and am eager to see how they grow and will also definitely be making a concerted effort to go and see them live again as soon as possible, and recommend that everyone else does so too, not only to check out their music, but also to support the local underground scene, which I am hoping is having a rebirth around here. Well done guys – you have a new fan.
LINKS
https://www.facebook.com/scarsofremembrance/

https://www.instagram.com/scarsofremembrance/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZTUQ87ynUw92fJ34Z29bhQ
02 Scars Of Remembrance

 

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 all parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

All photographs are the property of Beth Jones and PhotograBee – http://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages

Callus, Live at Wrexfest, Atomic, Wrexham 28/07/2018

01

Callus
Wrexfest, Atomic, Wrexham 28/07/2018
Review by Beth Jones

I love it when an idea goes to plan! When Brendan (head honcho at Wrexfest) contacted me and said they wanted to do a metal night at Wrexfest this year and who would I suggest to try and get for the line-up, one band immediately came to mind – CALLUS!

After seeing these guys at Hammerfest earlier this year and being totally blown away by them, and subsequently following them through social media and in the flesh as they progressed through the heats at Mammothfest, Battle Of The Bands, Chester, it was a complete no brainer that our favourite three piece from the North should be part of it. When we found out that they were on the bill, we were a touch happy!

The evening had a diverse billing, ranging from slightly softer rock, to Metalcore, to …erm… a band called Glove who I am not sure how to classify! But we are all for diverse here at Ever Metal! It is what keeps music alive.

Wrexfest is an event which has been plagued by the weather and other factors since it started in 2013, but it battles on. This year, due to various issues, two of the bands on the Atomic bill had pulled out by the time we arrived, however this did mean that CALLUS got a longer set time – two thumbs good in our book!!

After conducting a very funny interview with the boys down a side alley two minutes from the venue, we headed back to watch them do their thing. They had told us that, because of their extended set time, they were able to chuck in some new stuff and we were super pumped to hear it! They did not disappoint!

The dictionary definition of CALLUS currently reads: ‘A thickened and hardened part of the skin or soft tissue, especially in an area that has been subjected to friction’. This however will soon have the addendum…’subjected to friction from epic moshing to an amazing three piece who take you to a new level of awesome’.

O.M.G… I seriously cannot put into words how good CALLUS are! They are a weird mix of Thrash, Stoner, Doom, Progressive and Classic Metal, that should never work, but somehow it does, and brilliantly at that! They have a mix of chunky riffs, down tuned grooves, growly, shouty vocals, and insane drumming that gives you no choice but to move!

When they started their set the room was semi full, and it isn’t a big room, but as they played, the crowd grew and grew until it was packed to the rafters with people drawn to their sound. It was awesome!

I have stages of mosh – level 0 – ‘yeah they are ok – I will nod my head a bit’, level 1 – ‘I will take my hair out of my pony tail, because even though it is weird and wispy, I may want the hair effect as I nod my head to show that I am really in to this’, then level 2 – I will also now remove my glasses for I can feel my body going and I have no control over it, and if I don’t remove them they will end up in someone’s pint’! I was at level 2 mosh by the second song! I haven’t done that since my Tivoli days in the late nineties (and my body still knows it today!) but I seriously could not help myself!

These guys are so slick, so professional, so tight that you would swear they were a huge band of seasoned professionals, not a widely unknown one in the infancy of their career. I guarantee that they will not be unknown for long – they are too good not to get noticed! They kept the crowd thoroughly entertained throughout the 45 minute set and didn’t at any point lose anyone’s interest. Every single song was a smasher, and they performed the new stuff like it had been part of a great set for years. The audience were in the palm of their hands, even the breaks between songs, where guitarist/vocalist Louis Clarke switched guitars or retuned, were covered by an interesting sound effect which lead beautifully into the next song. Their set was not only jam packed with catchy, riffy grooviness, but was cleverly thought out and meticulously planned to keep the pace and momentum going from start to finish. We had not heard much of bassist/vocalist Ben Wormwell on vocals before now, but tonight we got to hear his vicious growl in some of the new material and it was growly and excellent! All of this brilliance was kept in check and time, and backed up by some of the most intricate tub-thumping I have ever seen, from drummer (and ego) Ryan Ormerod – the speed at which he moves his feet on the pedals, without triggers, is astounding!

I literally do not have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe how good these guys are, how they have completely won us over and have our utmost support here at Ever Metal, not only for the absolute amazing talent they all have, both individually and as a group, but also because they are three great, down to earth, genuine guys who deserve to be truly recognised for their hard work and dedication to their art. We are nearly old enough to be their parents, but I genuinely don’t think I could have been prouder of their performance here, if they were my own kids. #proud.

I implore anyone who has not heard them or seen them yet, to check them out and go and see them, you will not be disappointed. We eagerly await their debut album and will be first in the queue to buy our copy. A huge well done and a massive thank you to you guys for ripping it up in our little town!
CALLUS LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/Callus.band/
https://www.instagram.com/callus_uk/
https://callus117.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZOSaYdZBmL8DhLMPjLWggQ

 

02

 

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 all parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

All photographs are the property of Beth Jones and PhotograBee – http://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages

Bloodstock ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ North Wales Semi Final 2, Atomic, Wrexham 25/05/2018

05 M2TM North Wales Logo

Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses –  North Wales –  Semi Final 2 – Atomic, Wrexham  –  25/05/2018
Review by Beth Jones

As the light evenings get longer and summer doesn’t look quite so much like something that happened in the old days, the North Wales M2TM competition is nearing its climax, and the penultimate gig saw us return to our new favourite little venue, Atomic in Wrexham. The night was set to be a good one, with a strong bill of four bands all vying for the prize, and awesome special guest headliners in the shape of the mighty Witch Tripper. Unfortunately, one of the four competition bands, Cobolt Collision, had been forced to pull out earlier in the day, due to illness – we were gutted, but I can guarantee we weren’t as gutted as them. Hopefully they will get another chance at the competition sometime in the future. But these things unfortunately can’t be helped. And so, the stage was set, the atmosphere was great and the nervous tension palpable, as we entered what I shall lovingly call ‘the Snug’!

First up were Redwood Avenue, a band that we had seen originally at Hammerfest earlier in the year and were a little non-plus about. I wrote in our review of that… “They were good, but for me the music needs more of a hook; it felt a little disjointed in places, but the guys are only young, so this will hopefully come with time”… Now this doesn’t happen very often, but…… OK I ADMIT IT – I WAS REALLY WRONG!!! We have now seen them three more times, and they have been better each time – it’s funny how first impressions can be so wrong. I’m not saying never listen to me because I am clearly an idiot, but NEVER LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE I AM CLEARLY AN IDIOT!! They were tight, they were catchy, they were riffy and their mix was crisp. They got the place instantly bouncing, and gave the audience a great show to start the night. They are more modern metal, but they properly know what they are doing, and I am ashamed that I passed it off after our first encounter. My humblest apologies guys! This performance was by far the best we had seen them. Cracking!

01 Redwood Avenuehttps://www.facebook.com/redwoodavenue2014/

After a quick vape/bar/comfort break, it was back up to the Snug for band number two – the utterly loopy Mad Spanner. These guys are just hilarious – they are the Monty Python of metal, combining off the wall observational comedy with chaotic thrash / punk! Lead singer Michael has one of the most expressive faces I have ever seen, and his height and huge amount of hair add to the overall manic-ness of their performance. They humoured us with tracks such as, ‘Get Off Your Bastard Phone (You Antisocial Dickhead)’ and ‘We Are No Longer Forced To Use A Shitty Drum Machine’, and everyone had a great time throwing people round the pit and laughing manically as they did it. Absolutely hilarious, wild, manic, fun. So much so that I even took my hair out of a ponytail and had a little mosh! Whilst, musically, they may not be the tightest band in the world, for the sheer fun factor, they are two thumbs good in my book!!

02 Mad Spannerhttps://www.facebook.com/MadSpanner/

The final competition band were Cadence Noir. When we saw these guys in the heats, bassist Tom was somewhat incapacitated, on crutches, so had to sit down to play, but by the Semi he was up on two feet again and it did make a difference to their performance. Again, their sound was great, and you could tell that they were really up for the competition. They say that their style is ‘Gothic Folk ‘n’ Roll’, which is right up my street – I would possibly call them Pirate Metal, because that is what it makes me think of! I love the fact that their music does have folky roots, and the roll played by Fiddle player, Emma, is integral to their music. For this show, Tom was also interchanging between his standard electric Bass and a mighty sexy electric double bass, which added another dimension again. Their upbeat, bouncy, rum drinking tracks had the whole room moving again, and my personal favourite is their jaunty little ditty, ‘Fuck, Fuck, Boom, Boom’! Loved it!

03 Cadence Noirhttps://www.facebook.com/CadenceNoir/

And that was the last of the competition bands – this was going to be the toughest decision yet for the judges – all three deserved a place in the final in my opinion. So, whilst the judges deliberated, and after another quick vape/bar/etc break, the special guest headliners, the mighty Witch Tripper, took to the stage. Beany, our Master Of Ceremonies, had announced them as ‘the hardest working band in the UK at the moment’, and I have to say that, with the exception of Absolva, I completely agree. Their passion and complete dedication is conveyed superbly by their musicianship and performance technique and I love them! They fill the stage even though there are only three of them and produce song after song after song of solid, groove laden, proper hard heavy rock. They are the genre’s equivalent to a top quality 8oz fillet steak (or vegetarian equivalent!) and deserved to be savoured and enjoyed! Seriously if you have not heard these guys, you really need to check them out. We are hugely looking forward to seeing them at Amplified in a couple of months’ time.

04 Witch Tripperhttps://www.facebook.com/witchtripperuk/

After the sheer brilliance of Witch Tripper, it was time for the big reveal. It was too close to call, and Beany milked this for as long as humanly possible, and then a bit longer! After truly putting the whole audience on tenterhooks, the bands announced to progress to the final were…… Redwood Avenue and Cadence Noir! It was such a shame that one had to go, and that one had to be Mad Spanner, but that is the unfortunate nature of competition. Regardless, the night was brilliant, the bands superb, and the atmosphere warm, friendly and jovial throughout. I was in my happy place. Bring on the final, because if it is half as good as the semi, it will be a cracking show.

For those who can get there, I thoroughly recommend making sure you do – there is a move of venues, to Central Station, and the addition of a second stage, meaning the night will be even more jam packed with great music. I think I should probably book the Saturday off work!!

SOCIAL MEDIA

M2TM North Wales FINAL – Central Station Wrexham – 15/06/2018 Event Page

https://www.facebook.com/events/562274997482339/

Bloodstock M2TM Official Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/m2tmofficial/about/

North East Wales Metal Productions

https://www.facebook.com/N.E.WMetalProductions/

Powerzone Radio Show

https://www.facebook.com/Powerzonemetal/

Atomic, Wrexham

https://www.facebook.com/atomicbarwxm/

Bloodstock Festival

https://www.facebook.com/bloodstock/

 

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

All photographs are the property of Beth Jones and PhotograBee – http://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages

Bloodstock ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ North Wales Semi Final 1, Atomic, Wrexham 04/05/2018

07 M2TM North Wales Logo

Bloodstock ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ North Wales Semi Final 1
Atomic, Wrexham – 04/05/2018
Review by Beth Jones

Following four great heats, Friday 4th May saw the first semi-final of the North Wales leg of the hotly contested Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses. With the ultimate prize of a spot on the New Blood stage at this year’s Bloodstock Festival, the competition was going to be fierce. The standard thus far in the heats had been excellent, so it was also going to be a very close contest, and I, for one, was glad that it wasn’t me having to stand in the judges’ shoes, as the evening did not disappoint.

The weather on Friday had been pretty nice and it was still quite warm outside. Now, for those of you who haven’t been to Atomic in Wrexham, which was the venue hosting the event, it is a cracking little venue – with little being the operative word! Let’s just say that it is a venue where you get very friendly with people very quickly, and it is a little on the warm side once you get any more than ten people in the room!

The first band of the night, Lullaby For A Unicorn, decided to embrace the heat, by dressing their bass player in a pink fluffy unicorn onesie! It was a sight to behold! You know it is going to be proper metal when you have a unicorn light, a cowboy hat, light up shoes, a seagull suspended from a smoke alarm, and a large gentleman with a light up bass, in a unicorn onesie and shades!! And this eclectic gathering of lunatics did not disappoint. The ethos of the band was fun, crazy and madcap; however their all-round musicianship was superb. The singer was incredibly animated, sometimes looking a little unhinged, but this just added to the overall presentation. The drummer impressed me most and I found myself drawn to watching him, purely for the force at which he played with! The whole room was bouncing along with them, embracing the crazy juxtaposition of pink and fluffy with chunky riffs, growly vocals and general metal mentalness. They took us through 30 minutes of hilarious awesomeness and started the night off with a bang! They truly are the originators of the genre they classify themselves in – ‘Turbo Metal Unicorn Sexy Horn Time’.

01 Lullaby For A Unicornhttps://www.facebook.com/rockmyunicorn/

The question then was ‘how the hell do you follow that?’ The answer was ‘with Impavidus of course’!!! Holy undercrackers! The was our first experience of these guys, as we hadn’t been able to make their heat, and it was, if you will excuse the expression, FUCKING AWESOME! The female fronted fourpiece from Manchester absolutely took the roof off the place with their fast paced, ridiculously funky heaviness. The vocal abilities of lead singer, Michelle Adamson, are just insane! She has the ability to switch between something that sounds like Gollum possessed by many demons, to beautiful, clean vocals in the blink of an eye. They absolutely owned the stage. The musicianship of each individual member was displayed brilliantly, with intricate guitar work, heavy bass, solid rhythms and the amazing vocals. Their tunes are not overly intricate, but have lots of changes and variations on themes, that kept it interesting and enthralling for their entire performance. You could not help but be drawn to them. We were utterly blown away by them. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what we got was something really, really great.

02 Impavidushttps://www.facebook.com/impavidusuk/

Next up, were a group of crazy kids from deepest darkest North Wales, who go by the name of Krank! These guys were a little bonkers and definitely a little erratic, and this came through in their music. They were tight and good as musicians, but a little too schizophrenic for me to keep up with. They did have a good groove though and the vocalist’s energy was insane. He was a tall chap, the ceiling in Atomic is quite low, and at one point I got distracted from the music, worrying that he was going to knock himself out by headbutting the ceiling! I did feel a little underwhelmed by them though unfortunately. This may have been because the two previous bands had been of such a high standard, that it would have to have been a very special band to top them. It is a shame, because they were good, they were funny, they were tight, and they were obviously all good musicians – they just didn’t quite float my boat.

03 Krankhttps://www.facebook.com/krankislife/

The final band in the competition for the evening was OMV. We had seen these guys at their heat and I was very impressed with them, so was expecting big things at the Semi Final, and again, they delivered. They have a very definite look about them, with all bar the singer wearing some form of mask, and have obviously thought hard about the visual image they want to convey to fit in with their musical style. They are again extremely tight as a band and are all really talented musicians. There style is very definitely Crossover Hardcore, and their music punches you in the face with heavy, angry vocals, complex bass lines, and fast intricate guitars. They have got something to say and they are going to say it whether you like it or not! Thankfully, I liked it! I didn’t think on the night, they were quite as on point as they were in their heat, however they were still very impressive and their performance incredibly energetic. It is clear to see that they put a lot of work into what they do, and hats off to them for that. I really enjoyed them.

04 OMVhttps://www.facebook.com/omvmetalband/

So that was the end of the competition bands for the evening, however the entertainment was set to continue, whilst the judges deliberated and counted up the audience vote. That entertainment was brought to us on the night by special guest headliners Outright Resistance. Having seen these guys at Amplified Festival last year, and been mightily impressed with their tightness and stage presence, especially from their singer, and then being shocked by the news they had parted company with her a little later in the year, we weren’t sure what to expect. They were still tight and incredibly well rehearsed, and the new singer was good, but for me, it had lost a bit of the sparkle. It was a shame because they are so good. Maybe it just needs time to gel more. I don’t know.

06 Outright Resistance 2https://www.facebook.com/OutrightResistanceBand/

Then came the important bit of the night, the announcement (drum roll please!) After a very difficult deliberation the judges vote went to Impavidus. I have to say that we were in 100% agreement with this – they were by far the best on the night. The public vote went to OMV-Hardcore /Crossover – again this was definitely deserved. So two of the four bands progressing to the final were decided and we left, having had a great night, and thoroughly looking forward to semi-final 2…..

TO BE CONTINUED……

SOCIAL MEDIA:

M2TM North Wales SEMI FINAL 2 – Atomic Wrexham 25/05/2018 Event Page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1839085989436464/

M2TM North Wales FINAL – Central Station Wrexham – 15/06/2018 Event Page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/562274997482339/

North East Wales Metal Productions:

https://www.facebook.com/N.E.WMetalProductions/

Metal 2 The Masses Official Public Group Page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/m2tmofficial/

Bloodstock Festival:

https://www.facebook.com/bloodstock/

 

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

All photographs are the property of Beth Jones and PhotograBee – http://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages

Mason Hill & Hollowpoint – Live Review

Mason Hill1

Mason Hill & Hollowpoint
The Tivoli, Buckley.
8th December 2017
By Beth Jones
9.5/10

Having seen Mason Hill at Rockwich in the summer of 2017, when this gig was announced on our doorstep, it took me all of a millisecond to decide that we were going. Not only a chance to see my new favourite band, but also to go back to my old weekly haunt for the first time in 20 years, was far too tasty a prospect to pass on, and I had been eagerly awaiting it since. Now people who know me, will know my luck when it comes to weather and I am happy to report that mother nature has kept up her 100% record of trying to foil my brilliant plans, but as yet she had not succeeded!! So with the snow still falling and icy conditions on the road, we set out to the Tivoli ready for a great night.

We arrived in one piece and where very thankful to discover that Mason Hill and Hollowpoint had also made it! Unfortunately, Anglesey’s Bad Dog had been unable to make it off the island, but hey – two out of three ain’t bad!!

The venue itself hadn’t really changed in the 20 years since I had been there last, which was pleasing. I instantly went on a nostalgia trip, pointing things out and chuckling as a million memories came flooding back. The staff where really friendly and the bar was still reasonably priced, and it was also pleasing to see a pretty good number of people had battled through the weather to support the bands.

Hollowpoint2

First up was Hollowpoint, a rock and metal band from Cheshire who supply a great mix of original tracks and classic covers, made up of Andy Cotton from Renegade, Stu Gower and Tim Hopkins from Gearjammer, Fozzy from Snakebite, and Nige Connor on vocals. I was really impressed with their sound straight away; it was very full and the vocal range of Nige was extremely impressive. They had the audience’s full attention and reeled off a host of originals and great covers at a roaring pace. Their vocal harmonies, intricate guitar work and chunky bass really filled the space and they were very upbeat and full of fun – exactly what was needed to warm all the punters up on this chilly evening. For me, their best covers where Saxon’s ‘Stand Up And Fight’, and Maiden’s ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ – amazing vocals on both and great twin guitar work in ‘Hallowed’. A really top way to start the evening.

Hollowpoint1

I had been making notes up until this point, but then Mason Hill came on and I was far too busy fan girling to make notes!!! What can I say about these guys…? Hell Yessss!! That is pretty much it!!!! Once again, from the first note they played, they had it. The whole crowd was with them straight away and they played with all the gusto that you would expect of a band playing a much larger venue to a much larger crowd. They gave us a mix of old and new, playing tracks from their debut EP, along with new material that will come on the hotly awaited debut album later this year.

Mason Hill2

The thing that I love about this band so much is their commitment. Their commitment and their stage presence, and their sheer talent make for an awesome live experience. Each one of them brings something different to the table, from James Bird’s seemingly effortless solos, Matthew Ward’s bouncing bass, Marc Montgomery’s skillful guitar, Craig McFetridge’s precision drumming and all topped off perfectly with the powerful soaring vocals of Scott Taylor, all the parts sit together in perfect harmony to create, in my opinion, the most exciting new band I have seen in many many years.

They switch between the heavier riffs of ‘Now You See Me’, to the soaring ballad ‘Where I Belong’ (which is simply a stunning song by the way) with total fluidity and just keep giving song after song after song of the quality that have the potential to be great rock anthems of the future.

Mason Hill3

Just for fun, as a finale, the guys threw in a perfect cover of Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’. Yes. Awesome.

By the end, Scott said that his voice was going (not that you would have noticed from where we were sat) and I get the feeling that he had maybe pushed just a little bit too hard. And that would be my only one point about the whole night. Scott please look after that voice – we need it to go on for a long time yet!!!

Mason Hill4

In summary, although the weather outside was frightful, the bands were so delightful, and as long as there’s Mason Hill, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!! I came out of the venue a very happy Beth and smiled all the way home. Incidentally this was the maiden date of Mason Hill’s first ever tour and I am so glad to be able to say I was there. Looking forward immensely to seeing these guys again at Amplified Festival in the summer.

HOLLOWPOINT LINKS

  • http://www.hollowpoint.co.uk/
  • https://www.facebook.com/hollowpoint1258/
  • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQieBjD-CxLjv0mQjrN656A

 

MASON HILL LINKS

  • https://www.masonhillofficial.com/
  • https://www.facebook.com/masonhillofficial/
  • https://www.instagram.com/masonhillofficial/
  • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz3cSYBHV_awSliSgZKCT0A

 

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