Quantum Pig – Songs Of Industry And Sunshine White Star Records Release Date: 01/02/2019 Running Time: 40:36 Review by ‘Dark Juan’ 9/10
Well, this is not what I was expecting at all. I am confounded, astonished and surprised all at once. I was expecting some kind of insane industrial blaster. Instead, I have got a Prog Rock band who simultaneously claim they are not a Prog band. This immediately gets the antennae quivering.
Hello, I am Dark Juan and I have stopped the DIY hell I am suffering in my kitchen in order to give you the (drunken) benefit of my wisdom on “Songs Of Industry And Sunshine” by Quantum Pig, which is a fucking great name for a band. Don’t argue. You’re wrong because you don’t know what a quantum state is. I SAID DON’T ARGUE! YOU! YOU THERE, WAVING YOUR HANDS ABOUT AND EXSPOSTULATING! PACK IT IN! NO-ONE IS IMPRESSED AND THIS IS MY REVIEW, SO YOU CAN JUST SOD OFF, OK? Don’t make me unleash the Evil Ones… the Evil Ones being my excuses for dogs. There is Sir Zeusington Zeus KCMG, VC, MM, MC, DFC and Bar who WILL raid your food regardless of what security provisions you have in place, Sir Igor Egbert Cleavage-Hoover who will just shout at you until you submit to his will (don’t ever eat a sandwich in his presence if you are female. You will see why he is called what he is…), and finally Hodgson Fartpants (named for the author Willaim Hope-Hodgson, a criminally ignored and extremely innovative author who arguably wrote the first sf novel entitled The Night Land and once lived in Borth near Aberystwyth, as did I. Wales became too hot for me after I defiled a priest’s daughter on the altar in St. Michael’s in Aberystwyth. At Communion…) Hodgson has just recently returned from a dodgy regime somewhere in the world where he was seconded to their armed forces for his skills at anal chemical warfare… Ooops, sorry. Three hundred words in and I haven’t said a fucking word about the music. I know I’m new here, but you are going to have to get used to this. It will happen A LOT.
Quantum Pig, then. An extraordinary duo based in London, in good old Blighty. A pair of very irritatingly talented men whose music is currently entertaining me mightily. Imagine Pink Floyd seducing Soundgarden to a soundtrack of Rush. Now try to rid yourself of that mental image. Good luck and I’ll see you on the other side of the subsequent counselling you will have to endure. Anyway, this is what Quantum Pig sound like and I have to say although it’s only April, this album is a contender for record of the year. I fucking love it! Remember Sugar? Bob Mould of Husker Du’s other band? This is Sugar on prog steroids, baby! I love the melody of it. I love the fact that I can hear profound lyrics instead of, “WOOOOAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH! Hurgh hurgh grrrrr waoooOOOOOO!” I like Ian Faragher’s voice and I like Mark Stevenson’s bass playing. I like the production on the record. It is crystal clear and sharp and entirely in keeping with the sound of the record. I like the guitar work and sound and how it doesn’t overpower the rest of the instruments. I like the bass sound’s clarity. I like the vocal harmonies the gentlemen employ. This is a fine record. It may not appeal to the metal purist, though. It could be considered somewhat lightweight for the person who has only ever listened to Chimaera, or who thinks metal starts and stops with Slipknot. This should not dissuade you from expending serious currency on Quantum Pig. Expand thy mind, metal pilgrim. Expand thy mind. There is more to metal than brutality. Sometimes it is composed of the most incredible magnificence and beauty. Sometimes it’s a fanged murder machine. Sometimes it pays to listen to something other than out and out metal. “Songs Of Industry And Sunshine” will reward repeated listens. I don’t want to quote lyrics, because I will ruin the wonderfulness of them, but the words are sublime. You can trust me on this.
The opening track ‘Statement Of Intent’ is just that, a song that sets the tone of the record in a rather remarkable fashion, all biting guitars and thought-provoking lyrics and things improve with the second track. In fact, it’s an upwardly trending curve of wonderfulness until we get to album closer ‘Dirty Old Engine’. Then Quantum Pig falter. You should know that I am not a fan of ballads. In fact, I fucking hate them with a venom akin to a genocidal maniac. They ruin albums. They are turgid, awful, personality-masturbating things that have no place in metal. I have a test for ballads – if it is not as good as Skid Row’s 18 And Life (being the only tolerable ballad I have ever heard) then it’s shite, mate. While ‘Dirty Old Engine’ is not quite a ballad, it does cost Quantum Pig a mark or two because their record ends on a damp squib, and not on the coruscating orgasm of magnificence it should have done. Bad Quantum Pig. Very bad Quantum Pig indeed.
However, drunken ranting aside, this is that rare thing. A prog metal album that is easy to listen to, challenging in parts, thought-provoking in lyrical content and rocks like an absolute motherfucker. Good Quantum Pig. We like it when you do that.
This record will be remaining on The Dark Juan Playlist Of Doom, Horror, Sexual Perversions And Obscure 70s TV Theme Tunes for quite some time. I suggest, no actually, I REQUEST AND REQUIRE YOU ALL BUY THIS RECORD AND CEASE YOUR POINTLESS PROTESTATIONS!
Thank you very much. I’ll be here until I’m fired.
The Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Quantum Pig a genocidally bloodsoaked 9/10. Good job Mrs. Dark Juan is in Blighty, really. I’d have some explaining to do about why the village is so quiet…
02. Statement Of Intent
03.Citizen And State
04. Long Letter Home
05. The Shadows We Miss
07. Keep The Nation Warm
08. Dirty Old Engine
QUANTUM PIG IS:
Ian Faragher – Vocals, guitars, keys
Mark Stevenson – Vocals, bass, keys
https://www.facebook.com/QuantumPig/ Tweets by QuantumPigBand
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.
Evergrey – The Atlantic AFM Records Release Date: 25/01/2019 Running Time: 54:07 Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King 10/10
There are certain bands, that when they pop up on the “reviews to do” list, I always try to get my name against first and Evergrey are one of those bands! Having been a fan since I purchased a copy of their 2008 album “Torn” on a whim, and also having reviewed their 2016 album “The Storm Within” I thought it was only right that I reviewed their latest offering “The Atlantic.”
Evergrey are a Swedish Progressive Metal band from Gothenburg, formed in 1995, and led by frontman and songwriter, Tom S Englund, they have always been synonymous with “technically and compositionally outstanding standards, combined with lyrics and messages which go way beyond rock ‘n’ roll prose.”
Progressive Metal is not one of my preferred genres, but there are a few bands that stand out in the field, and, for me, Evergrey have always been one of the best. With this new album, the band have manifested their reputation as one of the most unusual and innovative progressive metal acts….worldwide!
This album also sees them complete their “Hymns For The Broken” trilogy, which began life with the launch of Part 1 back in 2014, and is all about the adventure of ‘life’.
“As on Hymns For The Broken and it’s 2016 successor The Storm Within, the new album is about events and experiences in our lives,” explains Englund, “it’s about relationships, beauty and darkness, about fortune and grief, about love, hate, despair, joy and everything connected with it. Life is like a journey across the ocean, on the way to distant shores.”
So, it was rather apt then, to call the album “The Atlantic”, the second largest ocean on the planet, and with it, they take their listeners on a tempestuous voyage across the rough seas, something that only prog metal can really do!
The expressive cover art work was designed by Greek artist Giannis Nakos, who is renowned for his work for Oceans of Slumber and Hades Rising, among others. The album was mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen and was produced by Tom, himself, along with drummer Jonas Ekdahl.
The lyrics of Everygrey songs have always been of the darker side, as has the band’s imagery, and this album is no different, with the words being delivered with deep feeling and emotion from the talented voice of Tom. I have always been a fan of Tom’s voice and he did not disappoint on this album. He just seems to get better and better.
There are ten tracks in total and, although together they make for a superb album, each one can stand alone with “amazing power, depth and exciting detail.” There are no bad songs here and I don’t think Mr Englund could write an awful track even if he tried.
The first track on the album is ‘A Silent Arc’ and is probably one of the fiercest and toughest tracks Evergrey have ever recorded. Says their publicity notes, it’s “brutal in a certain kind of Evergrey way!” But, this is not the only function of this track. While it also sets the whole lyrical and musical content of the album, it is also the first single release. Quite a cute move to place it number one in the track list!
There will also be videos to accompany the atmospherically heavy ‘Weightless’, my favourite track on the album, and the anthemic and melancholic ‘All I Have’, two highlights from the thoroughly diverse and haunting album. Also, check out track number two ‘A Secret Atlantis’. Those opening riffs are just magnificent.
The band’s Facebook page cites their influences as Kiss, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Korn and The Deftones, and to be honest I can’t hear any of those bands in Evergrey’s music. For me, these guys produce music that is totally unique to them. They have the riffs and the guitars, the drums and the vocals that bands of all genres of metal possess, but the way it is all put together just sets them miles apart from the rest. This is music you could break up and make up to. It’s music that makes you feel emotions that you might not necessarily want to feel. It’s music that gets you right in the stomach and tears at your heartstrings! And there are not many bands out there who can do that!
If you have not heard Evergrey’s music before….where the hell have you been for the past twenty years?? And, more importantly, GO and BUY this album! In fact go and buy them all. They are definitely a band you need to hear.
I hope these guys continue to make lots more of their fantastic music and next time they are in London (question for you there Tom??!) I will definitely be at the front!!
01. A Silent Arc
03. All I Have
04. A Secret Atlantis
05. The Tidal
06. End Of Silence
09. The Beacon
10. This Ocean
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Evil Scarecrow – Chapter IV: Antartarctica Dead Box Records Release Date: 28/09/2018 Running Time: 48:45 Review by Beth Jones 10/10
Earth. 2018. The planet is in the grip of a dense stupidity, where man-size tissues attack poor offended snowflakes daily, and boys are forced to carry their school books in microwaves. Little do the poor earthlings know that their planet faces a new threat, in the shape of hot red people from outer space! The only hope lies at the feet of a crack team of renegades, known only as Evil Scarecrow, who must carry out a mission to play kick ass music to save the world, their mission, code name: Antartarctica.
Whether these intrepid minstrels are battling aliens, or fighting evil spirits they do it with style, and this new offering is no exception. In fact, for me it is the most rounded and musically mature album that they have released to date – even though their themes are still as bonkers and tongue in cheek as always, which makes them the band we have come to know and love.
The album kicks off with ‘Skulls Of Our Enemies’. A great tune to get things started, that could almost be a space age James Bond-esque theme for the impending Armageddon! It certainly has an element of impending large-scale disaster about it and is a great way to start!
One of their singles from this album, ‘Red Riding Hood’, is up next! This is such a great track – one of my favourites on the album, and it is absolutely terrifying! We saw them perform it live at Amplified this year and the 10-foot-tall grotesque Red Riding Hood stage character is the stuff of nightmares! But still tongue in cheek, with ingenious lyrical japes throughout, and musically great hooks, as well as the accustomed big chorus that is great to sing along to, that makes it very typically Evil Scarecrow.
Their songs really are huge musical numbers that accompany a theatrical extravaganza perfectly, and this theme continues throughout the whole album. It is proggy in places, it is symphonic and grand in others, with gothic and classic heavy metal thrown in alongside a healthy dose of electronica, as well as all the poise and excitement of a piece of spectacular theatre, which, combined with the lyrical craziness, could only be described as if the Goons or the Pythons had written Futurama through the medium of song then released it under the umbrella of Disney!
The album moves on, a pace and pretty soon ends up at ‘Hurricanado’, another rip-roaring tempestuous sing along, again with spectacularly catchy riffs, hooks and a big audience participation element. This track marks the half way point in the album, and is perfectly positioned at the peak, with its fast pace and the manic growls and howls of Dr Hell. By this point in an album I have usually heard one song that has made me pull a meh face, but not a chance here. Every element is perfectly placed, and not over egged. No song outstays its welcome, and each is different enough not to be boring, but has enough in common to make the story flow. It is witchcraft!
Track 7, ‘Polterghost’, is another favourite of mine, and not just for the madcap story, but for the brilliant chunkiness of the rhythm section, making it great for rocking out too, and the brilliant guitar work in the solo, which is not over stated or fussy, but fits the track perfectly.
What I think is really needed at this point in the album, is something to properly lose your shit too. Yet again the Scarecrows’ super sixth sense knew this and slotted in ‘Cosmos Goth Moth Gong’, because why not! It is by far the heaviest track on the album and brilliant to boot. I’m now wishing that one of the songs on this album was mediocre, as I am running out of ways to say, ‘this is damn brilliant’! This super track gives you the sense that the album is building to some totally explosive, all out galactic warfare, finale, that may result in certain death, or at the very least, a little bit of maiming. And then…
‘The Ballad Of Brother Pain’. Wow! This I did not expect! All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a toned down, slow ballad, with clean vocals and stripped back effects, that is melancholy and has a beautiful, almost ethereal quality about it, then a huge and brilliant guitar solo in the middle, taking it to the big lift ending! Again, a sing along, of stadium proportions, which blew my mind! I frikkin love this song! And indeed this album!
The closing, and title track, ‘Antartarctica’, combines all of the above, in a nightmarish, apocalyptic vision, of epic proportions with this piece on its own being an impressive 10 minutes in length! They have taken every element used so far and created an eclectic masterpiece, full of great guitar work, changes in tempo and dynamics, growls, clean vocals, rough and heavy rhythms, classic gothic cadences, narration, tension and suspense, a cuddly toy and probably the kitchen sink too!
Something very special happens when you listen to Evil Scarecrow. It brings out your inner child. No matter how bad your day is, a quick listen to this, or any Evil Scarecrow album, will bring you round and transport you into their crazy, warped Sci Fi world! The difference being with this album, is they have now really bedded in and are thinking bigger, and better, and creating musical masterpieces song after song after song. Their writing is now so mature, that they are approaching the point of complete perfection, hence my perfect rating.
This is probably the best album I have heard all year. I can’t really say much more than that, other than, get out there people, buy it and listen to it and love it like a brother, whilst you still have the chance! The world will be brought to an end by stupidity and people taking offence at the colour of the sky, but at least Evil Scarecrow will have made the end infinitely more enjoyable!
1. Skulls Of Our Enemies
2. Red Riding Hood
3. Way To Die
4. The Magician
6. Gus, Zag And The Turnip King
8. Cosmos Goth Moth Gong
9. The Ballad Of Brother Pain
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.
SEVEN SISTERS – THE CAULDRON AND THE CROSS Dissonance Productions Release Date: 13/04/2018 Running Time: 51:18 Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King 9/10
After having the opportunity to interview Graeme from Seven Sisters recently, I thought to myself that I really should give their new album The Cauldron and The Cross a spin, and why not give it a review at the same time.
Seven Sisters are a four-piece heavy metal band from London, who are, in their own words, forged from the same steel as the NWOBHM acts of yesteryear. Formed in 2013 by Kyle McNeil (vocals/guitars) and Graeme Farmer (guitars) in 2013, they are inspired by the likes of the Paul Di’anno era of Iron Maiden, Angel Witch and Virtue.
Says the band: “we have a mix of old school heavy metal (the NWOBHM movement in particular) and elements of power metal, thrash metal and things like that. We’re pretty progressive in places, but our songs are heavily melodic and hopefully pretty catchy too.”
The band have gained a reputation over the past few years as a stellar act in the heavy metal scene, playing shows all over the UK and Europe off the back of two independent releases, “The Warden Demo” in 2014 and “Lost in Time” 7” in 2015. They have since signed to Dissonance Productions and The Cauldron and The Cross is their second album.
With its main source of inspiration being a book written by Marion Zimmer Bradley called “The Mists of Avalon”, The Cauldron and The Cross is a concept album, a story that involves the two religions of Paganism and Christianity. With its myth and magical title tracks and a cover artwork depicting what looks like a scene from a fantasy film, this album has all the hallmarks of a typical power metal release.
But, this is power metal with a twist. Although, the power elements are unmistakably there, the thrash elements the band themselves stated were an influence can also be heard, but then so can the NWOBHM traits.
But that’s not all. On top of all this are the subtle prog influences too. I have never really been a prog rock/metal fan but the time changes throughout the individual tracks are clear to hear. Time changes are one of the aspects of prog music that turned me off the genre, but in this album, they seem to flow a lot better. And this, along with the changes in key, really does make it seem as if the music and lyrics are talking to you.
This is a band that obviously has an immense talent. Despite the relatively short time they have been together, they work so well and sound like they have been doing this for years. And that is something not found very often.
I read somewhere that the band intended on being a five piece, looking to recruit a singer to fill the fifth place and that Kyle was only a stand in singer. I can honestly say, that in my opinion, NOT getting that fifth person was the best thing for the band. Kyle is an absolutely fantastic singer with a voice that can cover a whole variety of ranges. He is ideally suited to the music the band play and I think that if they were to replace him now (please don’t) the whole dynamic of the band will change.
This album has everything from the speed metal of the opening track “Premonition” to the Maiden-influenced “Once and Future King” to the slower pace of “Blood and Fire.” There is also the ‘obligatory’ power ballad in “Oathbreaker” but this is, by no means, just a track that has been thrown in because people expect a ballad. It fits perfectly into the structure of the album and is one of the best tracks on it.
Stand out tracks for me, apart from “Oathbreaker” as mentioned above, are “Blood and Fire” and the double epic tracks “The Cauldron and The Cross Parts 1 and 2” at the end of the album, but my absolute favourite must be “The Turning of The Tide.” I could have that track on repeat for hours and not get bored with it.
So, should you go out and by this great album from this fantastic young band? Yes, you sure as hell do! This is a must for power metal fans, thrash metal fans, NWOBHM fans and traditional heavy metal fans alike.
I absolutely adored this album, and, for me, this is one of the best albums that has been released this year.
Blood And Fire
Once And Future King
Partings The Mists
Turning Of The Tide
A Land In Darkness
The Cauldron And The Cross Pt.1
The Cauldron And The Cross Pt.2
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Amplified Festival 2018 Quarry Downs, Gloucestershire July 8th 2018, Day Three Review by Rick Tilley with help from Beth Jones Photographs by Beth Jones 10/10
I’m not quite sure when everybody else got back to the tent Saturday Night/Sunday Morning because, as soon as my head had touched the pillow, I was away with the fairies. This is, somewhat, a double edged sword for me with my back problems. I usually don’t sleep very well but when I do, because I’ve lain in the same place for too long, I feel much more pain. Add to that the fact that camping is not very good for me, so when I woke up on the Sunday morning, I looked and felt like Quasimodo. Once I had managed to negotiate actually getting out of the tent, which certainly wasn’t as easy as it should have been, another thing hit me…it was even hotter than it had been the previous two days. My fresh T-Shirt literally crumpled and stuck to me, the sky was shimmering and the angry red orb, that was the sun, looked like it was ready to take top billing in a 1970’s apocalyptic disaster movie. Even the bullocks in the field across the road from us, who the previous day had looked like a gang of naughty teenage boys ready for a punch-up, suddenly looked like they had been let out from an old people’s home for the day and could barely stand up straight!
Welcome to Ever Metal’s review of Amplified Festival 2018 Day Three!
Once everybody was awake and ready we crawled slowly over to the arena and immediately stocked up on water. I’m not sure it’s particularly healthy but I was literally beginning to sweat salt and this was before any band had played a note!
We arrived at the Very Metal Art Stage just as the first band of the day, Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters, were starting their set! Cardiff’s very own rock chick, Beth Blade is always a good way to pass some time and at 10.15am, on an already ludicrously hot morning, was no exception. The first thing we noticed, from the last time we had seen the band live, was that the bass player had shrunk by about 18 inches. It wasn’t the heat but new bassist Vincent Grieve! If you’ve not seen or heard Beth before then imagine a mix of Kiss, Suzi Quatro and Joan Jet, good old 70’s/80’s Rock N Roll. She has huge power on stage, a proper gravelly rock voice and massive presence plus a great band behind her. She isn’t a shy lass, certainly woke everybody up and the sizable crowd had a blast, as well as huge grins on their faces!
Heading over to the Red Stripe Main Stage it was clear that people were starting to slow down slightly, unless your name was Michael Randall that is, but I certainly didn’t want to miss the next band. Carrying on the Hard Rock theme, albeit in a Jack Daniels coated Southern style, Thirteen Stars ambled onto the stage and promptly blew any remaining tumbleweed away with a huge bang. Hailing from the sunshine state of…Cumbria these guys are so laid back they’re horizontal but WOW, they are good. If you didn’t know better you would swear they were from Kentucky, Tennessee or Louisiana. They play proper bluesy, groove laden Rock N Roll and even though, having seen them before, I know they rip it up in a club setting, they were perfect for this Sunday Morning slot, especially in the sun with a cheeky Cloven Hoof Rum! I got so lost in the moment that, in what seemed like about ten minutes, they had ambled off stage again to rapturous applause. Absolutely superb!
Just as we were starting to get all Woodstocked up and considered changing outfits to flares and one of Simon Yarwood’s shirts we arrived back at the Very Metal Art stage and I got my soul ripped out by one of the most mesmerisingly brilliant and emotionally charged performances I’ve witnessed in many years, courtesy of the utterly incredible King Leviathan. With them being one member down and not wearing their usual garb onstage there were a few mutterings from some, before they started, as to whether it would work but I can tell you now that there wasn’t one person, who watched their performance, that wasn’t absolutely astounded at the end. Vocalist/Guitarist Adam Sedgwick was an unstoppable force on that stage and I couldn’t peel my eyes away from him. Blackened Thrash Doom isn’t usually Beth’s thing but we were both gobsmacked at the ferociously beautiful music that was coming out of the speakers. To know that King Leviathan will soon be no more is a very sad thing indeed. Completely compelling and enthralling from start to finish King Leviathan, amongst an ocean of fantastic performances over the weekend, were my band of the Festival!
After the emotion of King Leviathan’s performance and also realising that, even though I had covered myself in sun tan lotion, my neck was starting to blister we found a small area of shade by the sound desk and chilled out, chatting to others, whilst the VMA stage was readied for another “do not miss” band Resin!
I’ve known some of the band for a fair few years now and having seen and interviewed them a number of times before, plus knowing violinist Emma Bennett from her other band Cadence Noir, we were really looking forward to seeing this performance as it was the first time Beth had seen them and the first time I had seen them properly live with this line-up. It was also going to be interesting to see how the, as yet unstoppable, sound team handled a six-piece band with a violin player and three guitarists. I needn’t have worried because the sound engineers nailed it and Resin were absolute class from first note to last.
Musically this is a band of ultra-talented musicians (well, cough, apart from Simon). Their songs are incredibly dark and emotional, and the performance echoed these emotions. What they do is almost installation art as well as music; with the stage being jam packed full of a motley crew of tattoos and piercings, loud shirts, and the statuesque gothic beauty of Emma. Off stage the quartet of vocalist/guitarist Dave Gandon, guitarist/vocalist Mark ‘Chez’ Roseby, bassist/vocalist Drask George and guitarist Simon Yarwood are absolutely lovely guys but on stage they are incredibly intense. This is the place where they thrive and their emotions are laid bare. Backed up by the fantastic drumming of Ryan Hextall and the beautiful violin work of Emma, Resin were nothing less than haunting, a perfect fit for the Sunday line-up and a must see if they gig near you!
Because we were covering the event and wanted to properly watch as many bands as we could we walked back to the main stage again and I thought to myself that if I hadn’t lost at least half a stone by the time I got home then I would be a bit miffed, however, it was now so stupidly hot that some people had either left the arena to find some shade amongst the trees or just stopped, wherever they were, and sat/laid down. Many had done this about midway between the two stages so that they could still hear/see the bands without moving (the beauty of no clashes working a treat). This did result in some of the Sunday afternoon bands playing to, what looked like, a thin crowd but that wasn’t actually the case, everybody was just spread out!
Next up on the Red Stripe Main Stage were Scottish Progressive metallers Ramage Inc. and, as they played, a thought went through my head and it went something like this! “Fuck Me it’s hot, how is nothing on fire?” followed pretty quickly by the realisation that something was on fire and it was Ramage Inc. Having never seen these guys before, or listened to much of their music, it was another of those ‘Why the heck have I been so stupid?’ moments! This four piece band from Edinburgh has oodles of talent and their songs are so damn catchy and dark. Equal parts melody, rhythm and power, fans of Devin Townsend will adore them, although you probably already know that as I appear to be very late to the party. On the day Ramage Inc. were absolutely superb and, since returning home, their albums “Feel The Waves” and “Earth Shaker” have been played whenever I have the spare time! They are another hugely compelling band!
While Beth nipped over to see Marc and Nici at the Corrosive Merch/Goblin Dreams Stands I ventured into the very hot and VERY crowded G’s Bar Stage to check out The SoapGirls. Now, if you don’t know about The SoapGirls they are two Sisters, Noemie and Camille, who play Raw Rock/Punk Rock tunes and they play them whilst pretty much in the nude! I got told many times over the weekend that they are both lovely girls and I’m not disputing that for one second. I’ve also got no objection to anyone, male or female, who wants to get up on stage with nothing on and play music, a prude I am not. However, I’ve heard 1,000+ bands play their style of music and play it much better. With all due respect to The Soap Girls I really don’t think they would have the huge following they’ve managed to get if they went onstage in T-shirts and Jeans. You can call me cynical if you want but it’s a promotional tool that they have used well!
By this time my body really wasn’t responding very well but, if you know me, you’ll know I don’t give in without a fight so it was back to the Very Metal Art Stage to watch a band, that we hadn’t seen live before, but were really looking forward to. I could wax lyrical about Twisted Illusion, because they were so good, but I’m going to leave this bit to Beth because her write up sums it up perfectly!
“Twisted Illusion took the bronze medal spot for performance of the weekend for me, only outdone by Evil Scarecrow and Soil. If heaven exits, this is the soundtrack that is playing! Matt Jones, Matt McDade and Mark Wagstaff are three unbelievably gifted musicians, all meeting in perfect harmony to make Prog Mecca! It reminded me of the bit in Bill and Ted, when Rufus takes them to the utopian future after Wild Stallion’s music has brought about world peace! I was absolutely blown away by the tone and range of Matt Jones’ vocals and his incredibly decadent guitar solos. It was self-indulgent and ego laden but all tongue in cheek. Twisted Illusion’s stage presence plus witty repartee and banter from Matt J made it mesmerising and they are now my new favourite band, so much so that we are going to see them for my Birthday treat this year!
Twisted Illusion – So good they make you pull a sex face!”
What I’ve heard of Florence Black, up to this point, has been really good and when speaking with people, across the course of the weekend, it was a name that had come up a fair bit as a band punters wanted to watch so it was back to the Red Stripe Main Stage to see them and we were very glad we did. A trio from Merthyr Tydfil (Hey, we definitely had to support the Welsh bands) they play thumping Classic Hard Rock, with a little modern twist, and they do it very adeptly too. Vocalist/Guitarist Tristan has an awesome set of pipes and, along with their strong melodies, this made for a really enjoyable performance. Florence Black were another great booking for a Sunday slot, especially with the good weather, and a band I very much look forward to seeing live again soon!
What I had loved about the Sunday, so far, was that the bands booked, with the odd exception, had been a little more laid back and perfect for a crowd whose energy levels were probably a little on the waning side, but if anyone mistakenly thought that things were starting to wind down, then they were rudely awoken when the magnificent Shrapnel hit the Very Metal Art Stage. Another band I have been a fan of for a fair while, but had never seen live before, Shrapnel are an utterly furious juggernaut of Thrash & Speed Metal, their sound giving a huge nod to the likes of Testament and Exodus but stamping their own twist onto proceedings as well. They sounded like a squadron of advancing Challenger Tanks and had heads snapping in all directions. I love my Thrash and this felt like a starter, main course and dessert all in one go. Rather than feel completely drained by the time they left the stage I felt utterly re-invigorated!
With a renewed spring in my limp I hobbled, with Beth, back to the Red Stripe Main Stage because there was absolutely no way we were missing the next band. We first saw Mason Hill live, about a year ago, at RockWich 2017 and they absolutely blew us away, in fact it had almost brought Beth to tears so emotional was their performance. Since then we’ve met them, interviewed them, seen them live a couple more times and have championed them on Ever Metal and we were absolutely stoked they were playing on the big stage at Amplified. Unfortunately, the heat had got the better of a lot of people by this point, so sadly the crowd was a little sparse but that never stops Mason Hill and they gave every ounce of energy they had. They play Classic Melodic Rock with a Modern twist, have great material that is really catchy, they are all gifted musically and they play with excitement and passion. They even graced us with some new tracks that will be on their debut album and they are fabulous. We aren’t the only ones who think they rock, they’re now signed to Frontiers Music and they don’t sign unless they see something special! It’s a shame more people didn’t see them because they deserved to be playing to a much bigger audience but they still made some new fans at Amplified. Part of my step-daughters photography prize was to photograph them being interviewed by us later in the day and it was a joy to catch up with five of the nicest people you’ll ever meet! We love Mason Hill!
From a photography point of view Beth says that, Misfit’s guitarist, Doyle’s band was her favourite of the weekend. ‘Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein’ is an incredibly striking subject with his sculpted make-up and hair, body of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger and towering stature enhanced by some magnificent platform boots! Musically Doyle are, unsurprisingly a bit like The Misfits, churning out catchy, Horror themed, sludgy Punk/Rock n Metal. Frontman Alex ‘Wolfman’ Story is also an intriguing character. He looked like he had sunk three bottles of Jack Daniels before hitting the stage and his banter, in-between songs, was unusually humorous with each track being introduced as ‘this one is a love-song that you can dance to if you want’ in a slurred accent, before launching into another great performance. It was too hot to dance and there were a few too many love songs but Doyle are the embodiment of US Rock n Roll excess. You feel like they should have been playing this material at New York’s CBGB’s club in the 1970’s whilst throwing TV’s out of hotel windows and driving vintage cars into swimming pools. It’s hard to believe Mr Doyle is actually a vegan! Make sure you catch them on tour!
By this time my legs were completely numb, it’s very weird walking on what feel like lumps of wood, but I had said at the outset that I intended to watch as many bands as I possibly could and next up on the Very Metal Art stage were a band I hadn’t seen live for many years…Xentrix!
Alongside Onslaught, Xentrix were always one of my favourite UK Thrash bands and it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly thirty years since I trudged into London, as I used to do on a regular basis, to buy their debut album ‘Shattered Existence’. Like many bands they’ve gone through a couple of break-ups and many line-up changes but at Amplified they were utterly superb. Bull-Riff Stampede guitarist Jay Walsh is now also vocalist/guitarist in Xentrix and he did a cracking job. They were tight with razor sharp riffs and thunderous drumming fighting for supremacy and once again, any thoughts of slowing down from the Amplified crowd were banished as necks shook and legs stamped. As the sun slowly started to dip and the inferno level temperature subsided by a degree or two, it looked like everyone had been given booster pills! This was a fantastic performance from an excellent band and it certainly won’t be years until I see them again!
Back on the Main Stage it was time for Industrial/Alternative Metal heavyweights Sulpher to crank up their amps but I had to bow out due to needing medication/water and a fresh t-shirt, however, Beth went to watch them so here are her thoughts!
“I really love Industrial Rock/Metal, I don’t know why; I think it’s the raw edge power of it. The low bass and harsh drums just get to me. I think that the band were on stage, although it was a little difficult to tell sometimes with the amount of dry ice that was being pumped out! Having not seen Sulpher before, I didn’t know if this was a normal occurrence or if someone back stage had broken the switch on the machine but it certainly added to the atmosphere of their music! Again, the crowd was a little thin as many were still in the process of finding shade/nursing burnt skin or were in the G’s Bar Stage watching the, much talked about, Ward XVI and unfortunately I think this got to the band a bit with the between song banter being a little harsher than was necessary. It was a shame because, musically, Sulpher were absolutely outstanding”
I will add that even though I couldn’t see the band properly, I could hear them pretty well (I hope those sound guys were well paid because they deserved every penny) and Sulpher sounded fantastic. Since returning, Beth and I have checked out a fair bit of their music and neither of us would hesitate to go and see them again!
We were now heading towards the twilight of Amplified 2018 but the Headline band on the Very Metal Art stage was one I love but didn’t think I would ever see live so, even though I felt like a rat with no legs stuck up a drainpipe, I was as close to front and centre as I could be. With a massive portable lighting rig having appeared on stage along with a drum kit the size of a military cargo plane there was very little space left to actually stand but when Belgian Thrash/Speed Metal machine Evil Invaders flicked the on switch it was like they were playing Wembley Stadium.
I’ve already told you how much I like my Thrash and that there had been some awesome Thrash bands on over the course of the weekend but Evil Invaders took it to Def-Con 4. Their energy levels could have supplied the National Grid, which was just as well considering the amount of aircraft landing lights onstage. Vocalist/Guitarist Joe looked like the bastard lovechild of Lemmy and the Tasmanian Devil, his scowl utterly monstrous, and was a whirlwind of adrenaline from start to finish. Lead guitarist Max and bassist Joeri weren’t far behind and how the three of them managed to circumnavigate the space available without crashing into one another was astounding. All you could see of drummer Senne from behind the massive framed kit was a tornado of arms and hair and the occasional maniacal grin. If you’ve never heard of, or seen, Evil Invaders before then rectify that now because a band that is made up of equal parts Kreator, Heathen, Holy Moses, Iron Angel, Metallica, Exodus, Motörhead and a pinch of Septic Death is a pretty magnificent one in my book! They were a perfect wat to bring proceedings to a close on the VMA Stage and I really hope I get to see them live again!
During the Evil Invaders set Beth and I discovered Rum Bellini’s from the Cloven Hoof stand and they were absolute nectar, just about giving me enough energy to walk, one last time, to the Red Stripe Main Stage!
“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…” Here we were for the final performance on the Main Stage for another band from Beth’s formative years, Irish Rockers, Therapy? Now I’m going to be honest, when people, including Beth, talk to me about music in the 1990’s I nearly always do a ‘meh’ face. However, I cannot deny, that I was proved wrong yet again! Therapy? gave a fabulous performance with a mix of classic tracks and new material from the forthcoming album “Cleave”. Andy Cairns must be one of the nicest frontmen I’ve ever watched and between him, bassist Michael McKeegan and drummer Neil Cooper they make a heck of a lovely noise!
Everyone was having the time of their lives, singing along to just about every track and the atmosphere was electric, as the angry sun finally dipped below the horizon to give us some respite. It was almost as if Therapy? were battering it into submission! We had to sit down for most of their set, because we had definitely hit the proverbial wall. My back was agony and my legs were in serious danger of losing circulation plus Beth had developed elephantiasis in her ankles, but from our picnic blanket which had been very kindly supplied by the Motley Brew and with our cuppas aloft, we sang and cheered and smiled that melancholy smile you do when you know that something utterly fantastic has happened, but is coming to an end. Thank you Therapy? for an enthralling and brilliant way to end our Amplified 2018!
If you wanted still more then Welcome Back Delta were getting ready to play on the G’s Bar Stage but, like the previous two evenings, we finished with the Main Stage Headliner. We settled back down in the Motley Brew tent and chatted to anybody and everybody that arrived and we said goodbye to some who were packing up and leaving that night. There were no words to describe how we felt by this point, we were ridiculously tired, sweaty, dirty, in pain, drained, thirsty and a thousand other things but we also felt elated, thrilled, rapturous, enthralled, inspired and intoxicated, not by alcohol, but by the atmosphere and experience. It was very clear to see that we weren’t the only ones who felt like it either. After what felt like a wonderful eternity we finally dragged ourselves back to the tent for much needed sleep.
We didn’t get any sleep because a group of people, camping near us, decided that Sunday night was party night, hey they were just enjoying themselves, but with very groggy eyes we finally gave up trying to sleep at 6:00am and started to pack up. Mercifully, but also ironically, the temperature had decided to drop, somewhere in the region of 15 degrees, overnight. Had that happened a day earlier there would have been more people watching bands on the Sunday and my neck wouldn’t have looked like a bad case of Leprosy but I can say, with a clear conscience, that this was the best open air Festival weekend I have ever attended. It may not have had the largest audience, every event has to start somewhere, and it may have been hotter than everlasting purgatory in Hades but the atmosphere was the best I’ve experienced. You all know that we are family and I have never experienced that family feeling quite as much as I did at Amplified 2018. It would take me too long to name people individually so thank you from the bottom of my heart…you all know who you are!
I’m only going to mention one name because without his vision, drive and stubbornness Amplified wouldn’t have happened in the first place and, after last years debacle, it certainly wouldn’t have got to year two without his bloody mindedness. Gary Paterson take a bow and make sure you have a rest because Amplified 2019 is going to be even bigger and better, I’m not sure how but it will be! Links:
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of all parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Shrapnel & Therapy? Photographs courtesy of Sian Irvine Photography https://www.facebook.com/siankirairvinephotography/
All other photos courtesy of Beth Jones https://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages/
YATIN SRIVASTAVA PROJECT – CHAOS//DESPAIR Incendia Music Release Date: 25/05/2018 Running Time: 47:06 Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King 8/10
After reviewing the Nitish Pires album recently, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on yet another Indian metal album, and this time it was the new release by the Yatin Srivastava Project, Chaos//Despair. Yatin is a guitar player / musician based in New Delhi, India, and this is his first full length album.
Having started out as a bedroom project, Yatin has taken huge steps to get out there as a full-blown progressive rock/progressive metal band in the Indian and United Kingdom independent music scene and has previously released two EP’s (“The Dream Plays in Reverse” and “Constructing an Acoustic Dream”), a live DVD as well as two brand new singles and has been featured in UK magazines “Powerplay Magazine” and “Fireworks Magazine.”
With influences ranging from Porcupine Tree, Karnivool and TesseracT to Tool, Devin Townsend Project and Opeth, it is clear where their sound leans. Taking its original inspirations from the soundscapes and ambience of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Karnivool and so on, they have mixed in an element of electronic music inspired by bands such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails to create a personalised sound the band can call their own. On the live stage, they are lead by a powerful female voice, courtesy of Marissa Landy and incorporate a tight musical section comprising of Archie Farrer on bass, Sam Machin on guitars and Arjun Gupta on the drums.
At just over 47 minutes long, and almost two years in the making, the album is divided into two broad themes of “Chaos” and “Despair” and mostly deals with Yatin’s experiences throughout the last few years, with topics such as political disarray, religious fear-mongering, war, loss, lack of inter-personal connections and battles relating to mental health and personal strife all making an appearance.
“The sonically diverse record’s goal is to make the listener think, and possibly continue the conversation, about things that are usually not talked about in society today,” says the band’s notes. And if an album can conjure that from a listener then I think its half way there to winning the battle.
Most of the album was produced by Yatin himself in various living rooms and makeshift studios but the band decided to record the drums at Plug n Play Studios with musician-extraordinaire Anindo Bose (founding member of Indian Fusion band “Advaita”). It also features an array of guest musicians including Craig Blundell (Steve Wilson) and Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief) as well as various Indian artists prevalent in the Indian music industry including Dhruv Visvanath, Kunal Singh (The Stage 2 Competitor), Sanjeeta Bhattacharya (Berklee Alumni) and Arjun Mathur (Meinl Drums Endorsee).
I didn’t mind this album, although it is a little too proggy for me. I like my music a bit more in your face than this, but I think a lot of progressive rock and progressive metal fans will love this. It has an ambience about it that is synonymous to the progressive side of the genre and, with the crossover between prog and electronic, it should appeal to a wide range of listeners.
Indian metal/rock music is a genre I had never explored before but if the last two Indian albums I have reviewed are anything to go by, it’s something that I won’t be ignoring again. Go and check Yatin Srivastava Project out…. you might just be surprised!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.