Twisted Illusion + Midnight Prophecy, Equinox (now Ashen Reach) & John Ainsworth – Manchester Academy 3 – 21/12/2018

Twisted Illusion + Midnight Prophecy, Equinox (now Ashen Reach) & John Ainsworth
Manchester Academy 3
21st December 2018
Review by Beth Jones

The 21st of December is always my favourite day of the year, because it is my birthday! So, you can imagine my joy when I discovered that my band of the year was doing a big gig in Manchester on that very day. We had hotly awaited it for months. It got to within one week of the gig and Twisted Illusion dropped the bombshell that Matt McDade and Mark Wagstaff (the brilliant rhythm section of the band) were calling it a day as they felt they couldn’t give the level of commitment that was needed to fulfil their increasing schedule, and frontman Matt Jones got a bad case of laryngitis. I was beyond mortified. I had visions of the show being cancelled and my new favourite band becoming a memory. But being the consummate professionals they are, they insisted that the show would go on!

So off we set to Manchester. Getting there was….err…..fun! If you have never been to the Academy 3 (like me) it is like finding a needle in a very confusing haystack of bus routes and one-way systems. I may have got a ticket for driving in a bit which was busses and taxis only, and I may have ended up on the wrong side of the road at one point and narrowly missed getting hit by an oncoming bus, but Jesus was it worth it when we finally got there! (Rick here – I’m still shaking!!!)

The evening started with a mesmerising solo performance from a young guitarist by the name of John Ainsworth. He is a very slight and unassuming chap to look at, no different from the next person in a crowd, but put a guitar on him and magic happens! What that guy can do with his old, slightly battered semi acoustic is unreal! It is as if he was born with it strapped to him. He makes it sound like a complete band, and his musical creations are as intricate and complex as they are zany and pleasantly disturbing! This blew my mind and reminded me why I love live music so much. What a stunning way to start off the evening.

01 john ainsworthhttps://www.facebook.com/john12string/

Next up were Equinox. It turns out this was their last gig with that name, as they have now rebranded and become Ashen Reach! By now the room was pretty full, and the crowd were loving the unique, Hard Rock/Melodic Metal sound that was being unleashed from the stage. Their set was full on, lively and fun, and they were all having a ball on stage. Their female drummer, Jess Stanley, was positioned to the front of the stage, which was great to see. Usually it is impossible to get good pictures of drummers from the front, but not here! She was really interesting to watch as she has a very unusual technique, playing open handed a lot and holding the sticks really high up. They were superb! The vocals of Daniel Moran were soaring, but with a great crunchy, growly tone that fitted their style so well. This was a real party. Everyone was smiling and having a great time, all knowing that this was a special night. They brought it down for their last number to say a farewell to their Equinox days in readiness for chapters new, and it was obvious that this was a big thing for the band, with Daniel getting quite emotional. Deservedly so – it was a cracking performance full of heart and spirit. It will be good to see what Ashen Reach now bring to the table!

02 equinox (ashen reach)https://www.facebook.com/EquinoxBandUK/
https://www.facebook.com/ashenreach/

Our main support for the evening was Midnight Prophecy. The best way I can describe these guys is good old bacon and eggs British Heavy Metal. They were basically a brilliant, young, Iron Maiden with lead singer, Craig Cairns, having the sound and power of Bruce Dickinson, but a lot more hair! They were flipping brilliant!! One of their guitarists also looks like a giant Viking and pulls the best guitar faces ever! So much energy, so much stage presence, so much charisma! They have a real connection as a band that is old and wise beyond their years. Their set was fast paced and electrifying, and the audience were bouncing. The evening up until this point had been spectacular and had gone by so quickly that I was almost sad that it would all soon be over.(Rick here again – Based on this performance I’m REALLY looking forward to see Midnight Prophecy again at Amplified Festival in July)

03 midnight prophecyhttps://www.facebook.com/midnightprophecy/

All too quickly came the last performance of the evening, and the reason why most of us were there. Twisted Illusion, with the added extra of a young talent by the name of Saxon Davids (ex Kaine) joining them on guitar, and their ‘roadie on the night’ and occasional extra member, Voodoo Blood’s Chris Norris, joining them on upright bass. We had spoken to Matt Jones earlier in the evening and his voice was still a bit spannered, but he was determined to give us a brilliant show, so called on the services of Craig from Midnight Prophecy to sing some of the songs with them, and he sang harmonies an octave lower. It is scary to try and comprehend the talent of Matt Jones, as him on a bad day was still immense! THIS is what music really is; proper music. I found myself just standing, with my head back and my eyes close, letting the music eat me, with a huge grin on my face. There are a very small number of bands that have this effect on me, notably Queen and Devin Townsend; they are the bands that make me just have to stop and do nothing, just let the music in. Twisted Illusion are now on that list. Every song, new and old was an absolute smasher – ‘Excite The Light’, ‘Hatred Is A Virtue’, ‘Medicated Society’, ‘No Compromise’, the brilliant cover of ‘The Spirit Of Radio’ by Rush (EEEEK it was soooo good), I could go on, but I would end up just listing the whole set list! It has taken me a couple of weeks to be able to organise my thoughts on this gig, because I simply cannot put into words how bloody good Twisted Illusion are. Every single note, every pause, every rhythm change is perfectly placed and there for a reason, and it just makes me so happy to be able to experience it. I can’t even make one of my usual quips about it, because it was too good. Whilst it is extremely sad that Mark Wagstaff and Matt McDade are not continuing in the band, Matt Jones has vowed to carry on in 2019, with a full tour announced, and the release of the remaining parts of the Excite the Light Album Trilogy, and I am super excited for this!

04 twisted illusionhttps://www.facebook.com/OfficialTIband/

My words do not do these four fabulous performances justice. Seriously if you get even the smallest chance of getting out to see Twisted Illusion, or any of the other bands on this bill, do it – you will not regret it. All that I have left to say is thank you – a massive heartfelt thank you to all the acts, for making my birthday a very special night that I will remember for a very, very long time.

 

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

All photos courtesy of Beth Jones and PhotograBee Images
https://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages/

 

Beth’s Top Ten Live Acts Of 2018

Beth’s Top Ten Live Acts Of 2018

Hi all, Rick here. As we reach Day One of 2019 here is a last thank you and final top ten list of 2018. Beth is not only turning into a great photographer (she has only been doing it for about 20 months) and has also written some excellent live and album reviews she is also, for her sins, my other half and I really couldn’t put as much time and effort as I do into Ever Metal if it wasn’t for her help, understanding and belief in me so a huge thanks goes out to her.

So, without further ado here are Beth’s top ten live bands/acts of 2018!

This year has been a pretty fine vintage, gig wise, for us. Here is a rundown of my favourite acts of the year.

01 No.10 Scars Of Remembrance10. Scars Of Remembrance.

Local to Wrexham, and new to the scene in their current line up, they really impressed me in the summer with their performance at the New Metal All Dayer at the Live Rooms, Wrexham. It was amazing to see how far they had come in such a short space of time and I can’t wait to see where they take their heavy, Metalcore sound to next.

https://www.facebook.com/scarsofremembrance/


02 No.09 Evil Invaders9.Evil Invaders.

Belgian Thrash at its very best. Their performance at this year’s Amplified festival was superb. I’m not usually big into thrash, but these guys really know how to put on a show. Frontman Joe has a majorly expressive face and a great voice, and the whole performance was buzzing with excitement, and much dry ice!

https://www.facebook.com/evilinvaders/


03 No.08 God Shaped Devil8. God Shaped Devil.

I happened upon this band almost by accident! I was doing photography at Badgerfest and looking forward to a good few of the bands on the line – up but had overlooked these guys. I won’t be making this mistake again! Their performance was electric and their stage presence huge. They all looked like they were having such an awesome time on stage, and their playing skills were totally on point.

https://www.facebook.com/godshapeddevil/


04 No.07 Psychostick7. Psychostick.

I love music. I love clever comedy. I love madcap, slapstick performances. Psychostick have all this, and they entertained us no end at Amplified in the summer. They would have appeared higher in my top ten, but for the sombrero incident, which kind of distracted me as I was worried I might die! But they are so worth a watch if you get the chance. It is like watching the Pythons with guitars!

https://www.facebook.com/Psychostick/


05 No.06 Cadence Noir6. Cadence Noir.

Who knew Gothic Folk ‘n’ Roll was a genre. I certainly didn’t until I saw Cadence Noir going through the heats for Bloodstock M2TM, and then winning a thoroughly deserved spot on the Bloodstock New Blood stage. Their meld of folk fiddle, upright bass, and some really heavy riffs is fantastically nuts and works so well. I am soon to review their long-awaited album “Physical Copy” which was released on 22nd December, and I can’t wait to see them perform again at Pentrefest in February 2019.

https://www.facebook.com/CadenceNoir/


06 No.05 Lullaby For a Unicorn5. Lullaby For A Unicorn.

If you want to party, these are your guys. Again, we have seen them a few times this year, but my personal favourite performance was on 22nd December at Mclean’s Pentre. They turned the fun up a notch, and had the whole place bouncing in Santa hats, covered in party poppers and toilet roll! They are four seasoned musicians who don’t like to take life too seriously, and this comes across so well in their music and their stage presence. Bass player, Anthony, plays in a unicorn onesie, which is hilarious in itself. Guitarist Dan has light up shoes, lead singer, Justin, has a slightly unhinged glint in his eye, and drummer Rageth, well, who knows – each performance is a surprise – for this one he was green and wearing lovely shorts with braces! They certainly have the funny factor!

https://www.facebook.com/rockmyunicorn/


07 No.04 Novacrow4. Novacrow.

These guys made me smile so much at Rockwich this year. They are crazy and funny, but also create some pretty awesome sounds. Their brand of sleazy, horror-inspired hard rock is quite unique, and they have something very special about them! Lead singer Kitty has one awesome set of pipes. They are quirky and interesting to watch live, and love a bit of interaction with the audience, breaking down the fourth wall on more than one occasion with trips out into the crowd which really draws you in to their world, and I will be seeking them out again in 2019.

https://www.facebook.com/novacrowofficial/


08 No.03 StOp sToP3. StOp sToP.

Glam rock is alive and well and lives wherever these guys are. There was makeup, there was spandex, there were tassels, there was big hair, and there was soooo much dry ice and shiny lighting! On performance skills these guys absolutely nail it, and musically they aren’t too shabby either! Their fast paced, pumped up performance at Rockwich was one of my highlights of the year! Anyone who watches them and doesn’t smile has a heart of stone! I so hope I get to see them again very soon. Nothing makes me happier than watching a band completely loving who they are and what they do, and this sums up the StOp sToP boys.

https://www.facebook.com/stopstopofficial/


09 No.02 Callus2. Callus.

It seems unbelievable to me that we only met these guys at Hammerfest in March 2018. We have now become great friends, and it seems like we have known them a lot longer. In the 9 months since we saw them originally, we have seen them again another 3 or 4 times, and they just keep getting better. This is a young band who really know how to work an audience and create a good show, and they are all brilliant musicians to boot. Their debut album is out in about a month and I highly recommend that everyone checks it and them out and gets to see them live at the earliest opportunity, as they do not disappoint.

https://www.facebook.com/Callus.band/


10 No.01 Twisted Illusion1. Twisted Illusion.

Just WOW! I TOTALLY LOVE THEM! I first saw these guys at Amplified and they knocked me off my feet with their brilliant prog metal style. We recently attended their Christmas gig in the Manchester Academy 3. It was an emotional night, as Bass player Mark, and Drummer Matt M had decided that they were stepping down from the band, and frontman Matt J had been plagued with a bad throat for the week before the gig, but despite this they were utterly, utterly stunning. I am still trying to write a review of it, but I can’t put my thoughts into a coherent piece, such was the brilliance of their performance. Not many bands make me want to just stand and let the music consume me, but Twisted Illusion are on that elite list. I am so glad that we found them, and I cannot wait to see them again as often as humanly possible.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTIband


This has been a mighty hard list to compile as I have seen so many great artists this year. A few that were very close to making my top ten were, Witch Tripper, Evil Scarecrow, Mason Hill, Jayce Lewis, Impavidus, Footprints In The Custard, Resin, Fahran and Frozen In Shadows, who all deserve a mention for their cracking performances this year.

Writing this has made me realise how lucky we are to have so many great bands floating around at the moment, many of them only small, unsigned and relatively unknown in the grand scheme of things. Music truly is the most wonderful, universal language and I am so thankful that in enriches my life daily. If next year is as good as this year for live music, it’s gonna be awesome!

Thanks for reading and a very happy new year to you all xx

Disclaimer: All photos are the property of Beth Jones, Photograbee 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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Twisted Illusion – I Have Music, I Have Life (Live Album)

 

I Have Music, I Have Live Cover

Twisted Illusion – I Have Music, I Have Life (Live Album)
Self-Released
Release Date: 21/12/2018
Running time: 41:02
Review By Beth Jones
6/10

I’m slightly frustrated today, listening to the new live release by the fabulous Twisted Illusion, and I will tell you why.

For those of you who have not come across Twisted Illusion, they are a bunch of uber-talented guys who create a very unique brand of Prog Metal. Front man Matt Jones is a big character, and they have excellent stage presence live, and brilliant musicality recorded. They work hard and live for their art.

Their new release “I Have Music, I Have Life” was recorded live at a recent gig in Norwich. This is where my frustration comes in. Musically, they are as always superb; complex rhythms, outstanding vocals, and ripping guitar solos. Unfortunately for the first three or four songs, you can’t hear anything properly apart from the vocals, as the live mix was not great at all. First niggle. It does improve after about ten minutes, but it is still missing a bit of volume on the Bass for me and is still a bit hit and miss with some of the vocal levels in comparison with everything else.

Once the sound becomes more equal, it is much easier to hear the guitar wizardry of Steve Revier, who was appearing with them for this performance. He has great tone and it works really well, complimenting Matt’s vocals and guitar and adding an extra element to the sound.

The set is a very lively one, full of a whole roster of cracking tunes, which makes it move on a pace whilst the music is playing, but here is my beef number two; Too much rabbiting between songs. I don’t mind a bit of banter, and it is a good thing to be connected with your audience, but I think on a live album, it is difficult to stay connected when you can’t hear some of what the crowd or other band members are saying and responding to. It forces you to lose interest a little. I also have to say that, whilst I am no prude, there is rather gratuitous use of the word c**t at the beginning of the album, and because the album is recorded as one long track, rather than multiple tracks, you can’t skip it! Now, I can get over this because I know that good music is coming, but a lot would have an issue with it and would turn the album off before a single note had been played and that would be a travesty and completely counter – productive to what the band are trying to achieve. It is unnecessary. The music is awesome and can speak for itself, so let it!

Whilst this has got me doing my teacher face a little, there are many, many good elements – the actual performance from a playing point of view is difficult to fault, the vocals are huge, the complexity of the compositions is warped but insanely brilliant and these things combined make Twisted Illusion instantly identifiable, whether it is a live recording or a studio album, and this release is definitely one to have for TI fans old and new. However, I can’t help feeling that maybe it would have been better to take more time over releasing it – maybe recording it at a different gig and making sure that the recorded sound mix was spot on before putting it out there. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe I am in a bad mood. I still love Twisted Illusion and hope that they can continue making great music for a long time.

TRACKLIST:
01 TI Live at Norwich

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTIband/

https://www.instagram.com/twistedillusion__official/
https://twistedillusion.bandcamp.com/
https://twistedillusion.bigcartel.com/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK0IxAnfXG7ibOx4HUyOHQQ

 

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.