Nebula – Album Review

Nebula – Transmissions from Mothership Earth

Heavy Pysch Sounds Records

Release date: 22.07.2022

Running time: 39 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

As I write this, we’re sweltering in a record-breaking heatwave.  North Wales, which is where I’m based – and also where the nerve centre of Ever Metal can be found – has had some of the highest temperatures in the whole of the UK.  It’s crazy.  And so, a new album from desert rock titans Nebula seems extremely apt right now.  “Transmissions from Mother Ship Earth” has arrived at exactly the right time.

And it arrives with a welcome burst of fuzz drenched psych rock, exactly as expected, in first track, ‘Highwired’.  Big fat riff, dashes of space rock and a whiff of herbal cigarettes: classic Nebula, really.  Up next is the title track, which adds some nice, sixties secret agent vibes to the melting pot, together with a punishingly heavy section.

‘Wilted Flowers’ begins with a mellow guitar section before exploding into a thunderous head tripper.  There’s a feel of Mudhoney and the Stooges with Nebula’s best work, as evidenced here and with ‘Melt Your Head’.  Other tracks like ‘Warzone Speedwulf’ and “The Four Horseman’ sound like early Monster Magnet dripped in acid fried Steppenwolf and left to dry in a Tarantino desert landscape.    

No surprises then with this latest Nebula release, and with titles like ‘I Got So High’ you can guess exactly what to expect.  But who cares?  “Transmissions from Mothership Earth” is a solid album of pounding rhythms and spaced-out fuzz rock.  It’s bound to make my end of year best of list, and right now it’s the perfect soundtrack for summer.  Enjoy, fellow explorers – it’s gonna piss it down with rain tomorrow.

Talking about nebula and space and galaxies and all that, did I tell you about the great telescope trick we played on Bill Ward once?  It was at Brian May’s house, and he’s well into all that astrology business.  Bri’s got this huge telescope for star gazing.  So Tony, Ozzy, Geezer and me persuaded Bill to take a look.  What he didn’t know was that Brian had put black paint inside the lens, so Bill ended up with a great big, black monocle on his face.  Bill didn’t realise, and walked round like that all night – extremely paranoid as to why all the guests were laughing at him.  Great fun!

You can find Nebula on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Check out Heavy Psych Records online and on Bandcamp.

This review is a Platinum Al and Ever Metal joint presentation.

“Room 101: Bugs” by Eloise Jones

My daughter, Eloise, was tasked in school to write about something she disliked, that could go into Room 101. Like the comedy panel show that Frank Skinner presents. Panellists nominate something they hate, describe why they hate it, the “winning” topic is consigned to the legendary Room 101 to fester for all time.

Eloise chose “bugs”. She wrote such a passionate article that I though I’d share it here. Whether you agree with her or not, it’s a sincere piece with some real emotion!

Room 101: Bugs – by Eloise Jones

Bugs. Disgusting, right? Tiny and fast, they could be anywhere at anytime – hiding underneath your bed covers, in your favourite mug of hot chocolate… Whatever your least–favourite bugs are, I’m sure I hate all of them.

Starting off with places that bugs are free to roam. Such as Pili Palas. Butterflies flying everywhere, landing on your head – it’s a complete nightmare! 9/10 people dislike things that fly, so imagine someone walking into the butterfly house and going completely crazy! Also, around 95% of people hate it when flies come into the house and start flying around, so much that they kill them with a book! Bugs are just gross, ghastly and gory.

Personally, I have had several traumatising experiences that have altered my brain in some way. My first one is when I was younger, I went to a museum with my class. There was a room about bugs that scared me because they had these ginormous, ugly and terrifying models of bugs. That left me scarred for life. Another one is not too long ago, I was on holiday in Greece and there were loads of icky grasshopper – type creatures jumping everywhere. Whenever I talk about that holiday and I get to the topic of those nasty little beasts I refer to them as “Killer bugs”.

Just think of the peaceful and free life we’d have if we had no bugs. A summer without bugs even – jumping into pools and eating ice cream without all the fuss of having bug spray on. Sure, we have to wear sun cream still – (which is also annoying) – but there won’t be intrusive wasps attacking your cheese sandwich on a peaceful summer day. A family dinner without the odd wasp coming over and making the entire party jump up and run around. The perfect summer.

Surely everyone agrees that bugs are extremely annoying. When you’re enjoying a run in the garden with summer clothes on, kicking the football across the garden and then suddenly a wasp arrives, stings you and ruins the fun. It’s also annoying when a bug bites you and it gets sore and itchy and it really hurts. And if the worse comes to worst – There could be a bug invasion and bugs could come to fame! (Which is highly unlikely)

Honestly, who does like bugs? They’re not cute, they’re not that intelligent, and sure, wiping flies out will wipe out all spiders as well and will eventually corrupt the entire world, but at least I won’t have to put up with midges trying to eat me and my family alive whenever we go on holiday.

Sergeant Thunderhoof – Album Review

Sergeant Thunderhoof – This Sceptred Veil

Pale Wizard Records

Release date: 03/06/2022

Running time: 69 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

OK: so for once, I’m kinda stuck for words.  How do I tackle this album, the new offering from Sergeant Thunderhoof?  I mean, we can go through a song-by-song overview; try to describe the listening experience for the reader, make comparisons to other bands in a lame attempt to get the message across.  But what I really need – or want – to do, is SELL it.  Because I care about you, Ever Metal readers, and I don’t want you to miss out.  “This Sceptred Veil” is a fantastic record.

Our opening song ‘You’ve Stolen the Words’ lays Sergeant Thunderhoof’s wares out on the table from the off.  A mammoth, heavy riff erupts from the speakers and drags the listener along like a tin can in a hurricane.  This is a big sound.  Mark Sayers guitars are momentous, epic on a biblical scale.  Comparisons to Soundgarden are obvious but apt, particularly considering the Olympian vocals of Daniel Flitcroft, soaring on every song.

If I was gonna make more lazy comparisons, there’s a hint of spacey Monster Magnet raunch on ‘King Beyond the Gates’ and maybe even some Maiden gallop on ‘Show Don’t Tell’.  Both tracks testify that the rhythm section – Jim Camp on bass and Darren Ashman on drums – have the skills to rev the engine as well as groove along on the more cerebral tracks.

Speaking of the cerebral, it’s the lengthy prog work outs that differentiate Thunderhoof from other similar artists.  As much as I love the rockin’ numbers (shout out too for ‘Devil’s Daughter’), these guys are extremely comfortable wandering into the realms where Mastodon rule.  Witness ‘Avon and Avalon’ Parts I and II: two tracks that, whilst not exactly mellow, certainly take their time to explore and build a musical soundscape.  It’s thrilling.

Running at around the 69-minute mark, there is a lot to discover here.  You’re going to need to devote some time to this baby, but don’t fret – you’ll be massively rewarded if you do.  So please forgive the hard sell.  I only mention similar bands in an attempt to reach out to fans who I know will dig this, too.  Sergeant Thunderhoof have created a superb album in “This Sceptred Veil” – one of the best of the year, so far.  Don’t miss it.   

Check out Sergeant Thunderhoof on Facebook, Bandcamp and Instagram.

You can find Pale Wizard Records on Facebook, Bandcamp and their interwebs page.

This review has been brought to you by Ever Metal and Platinum Al.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock & Metal Albums of 2022

2022 was a fantastic year for new music. Bands that are old favourites, and new discoveries, made my musical journey through the year a great one. Of course, reviewing albums for my compadres at Ever Metal helped in my explorations – a gig that I’m very happy and proud to continue.

I was prompted to compile this list of my Top 10 Rock and Metal albums of the year by Ever Metal. This list has already appeared on that site, but why not share it at the Virtual Hot Tub too?

So here we go, the official 2022 countdown:

10. Brant Bjork – “Bougainvillea Suite”

A laidback, trippy journey through Brant Bjork’s sixties record collection.  Ideal for summer evenings.

Brant Bjork Facebook!

9. Captain Caravan/Kaiser – “Turned to Stone – Chapter 6”

Fantastic split album from Captain Caravan and Kaiser, which crept up on my unexpectedly and quickly became a favourite.

Captain Caravan Facebook! Kaiser Facebook!

8. Earthless – “Night Parade of One Hundred Demons”

Outrageously good album created by amazing musicians, Earthless are nutritious energy for the ears, mind and soul.

Earthless Facebook!

7. Stoner – “Totally…”

It’s Brant Bjork again, here with Nick Oliveri in their stoner rock super group.  Does exactly what you’d expect, and features one of the best album covers I’ve seen in a long while.

Stoner Facebook!

6. MWWB – “The Harvest”

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard don’t disappoint with this heavy yet progressive album, brimming with new ideas and sci-fi experimentation.

MWWB Facebook!

5. Nebula – “Transmissions from Mother Ship Earth”

Glorious heavy psych rock from Nebula, showcasing their savage riffs and outer space vibes.

Nebula Facebook!

4. Battalions – “King of a Dead World”

A monster of an album!  Heavy, sludgy – that’s all you need to know.  Brutal and brilliant!  They’re from Hull!

Battalions Facebook!

3. Crobot – “Feel This”

The most exciting hard rock band around deliver another energetic slab of groovy rock’n’roll.  Unmissable!

Crobot Website!

2. Clutch – “Sunrise on Slaughter Beach”

It’s Clutch, what can you say?  Clutch are legendary and they always come up with the goods.  This latest feels slightly darker than previous releases, but has all the required Clutch-ness necessary.

Clutch Website!

  1. Sergeant Thunderhoof – “This Sceptred Veil”

A worthy triumph at the top of my 2022 chart.  An album that has it all: heavy riffs, powerful playing, melody and invention – it’s an experience that the listener can truly immerse themselves in.

Sergeant Thunderhoof Facebook!

All awesome albums and I recommend you check them out immediately. And what a winner! You can read my review of the Sergeant Thunderhoof album on Ever Metal, and I’ll re-post it here soon.

Not long after I compiled this Top 10, I received a package in the post. It was a vinyl copy of the “This Sceptred Veil” album, which was a nice surprise. What made it even more special, was an excerpt from my Ever Metal review appearing on the hype sticker plastered to the front! I was super stoked to see this – hope my words help shift a few copies of this superb record!

Honourable mentions this year for quality releases from Ghost (should’ve been a Top !0 entry?); plus my old chums The Cult and Red Hot Chili Peppers (both continuing to release great music after all this time); amongst many others.

There’s lots of more new music to look forward to in 2023. The fun thing is, I don’t even know what some of them will be yet…

Stay tuned to Ever Metal and Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot tub for the reviews that mattter!

The Best of 2022

Happy New Year! And here we go, full throttle into 2023!

2022 was not an easy year for your old pal, Platinum Al. But the Virtual Hot Tub soldiered on regardless, never giving up despite the odds. NEVER SAY DIE. And in the end, the year 2022 was a successful one for this blog, with site views up approx. 2% on the year before.

Not a massive improvement, I’ll grant you – but I’ll take all the good news I can get. I certainly didn’t expect to finish the year with those stats, just the opposite.

So what were the most successful blog posts on the Virtual Hot tub in 2022? What articles brought in the hordes of avid readers? What did YOU want to read?

Here’s the traditional review of the Top 10 blog posts by number of views. In reverse order, countdown style, of course…

10. Hawarden Classic Car Show

Events started to return in 2022, and this local classic car show was a great example of the fun to be had as restrictions were lifted. Some nice pics.

9. New Skateboard 2022 – Death Benson

I like to chronicle my skateboards (or at least just the deck) for posterity, and just for myself. Despite my doubts, this rad set up made the Top 10.

8. Pentre Fest 2022

My beloved Pentre Fest was BACK in 22, with two more days of metal bands at high volume. Not long till the 2023 event!

7. Liverpool Comic Con 2022

A family trip out to Liverpool for a great con and a load of cosplay photos.

6. Scars of Halloween Horror Fest

My annual horror movie fest provided this blog, which was by far the most popular this year as it featured a Hammer classic.

5. Star Wars Figures- Empire Strikes Back Part 2

I’m happy to see the second part of my blog focussing on my Star Wars figures from The Empire Strikes Back feature in the Top 10!

4. Subskate Summer Fun!

An in depth investigation into the merits (and failings) of a pool toy that never quite made it.

3. Star Wars Figures – The Empire Strikes Back

The first part of my feature concerning my original Star Wars figures from Empire. Good to see this was popular!

2. Return of Wales Comic Con

More Comic Con and cosplay fun, with a visit to Wrexham and Wales Comic Con back on home ground.

So what was the number one blog post of 2022? It was…

  1. Chester Comic Con 2022

In the number one spot, a visit to Chester’s Comic Con! A summer afternoon, loads of merch and dozens of cool cosplayers made this article the most successful of the year!

Events back on the menu has, unsurprisingly, dominated the results this year. They were all great fun, and well worth the visit. In contrast to the results from last year, where events were (understandably) under represented.

It’s also gratifying to see some skateboards and toys being appreciated, too.

This year, we look to return to a “new normal” in our post pandemic world. But with a Cost of Living Crisis, Brexit still unleashing it’s mayhem, and the same gang of inept cowards and liars in charge, we still have plenty of obstacles ahead.

Never the less, we at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub remain vigilant – bringing you the best entertainment. Thanks for being with us in 2022. Stay tuned for ever more greatness in 2023!

Christmas Tat 2022

This year has been sadly tat free, I’m afraid. The tat reserves appear to have run dry. Never mind, I pledge to you all now, that I’ll try harder to showcase more items of dubious quality in 2023.

For the moment, a couple of last minute additions to the Christmas bauble (or “ball ball”) collection. I wanted to get the hippo in a tutu from Asda, but it sold out. So instead, I present to you: a Christmas Barbecue and some Sushi.

I’ve pondered the joys of these kind of strange “festive” decorations in the past. This year, I’ll leave it you you, readers, to consider the relevance of these wondrous items to the season. I just hope you enjoy.

Finally, I’d like to wish all of the readers of Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub a very Merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous New Year. Thank you for reading and keeping the dream alive.

Cocktail time: Amaretto and Cranberry Juice

Well, hello there! We’ve not enjoyed a Cocktail Time at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for quite a while, so let’s have one now. Although, this drink is less of a classic cocktail and more like something I just made up. Though it tastes so good, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Ideal as a winter seasonal comforter or a summer refresher, Amaretto and cranberry juice is highly recommended.

Amaretto & Cranberry Juice

  • Amaretto
  • Cranberry juice
  • Ice
  • Marashino cherry

Ok, really simple: pour two measures of Amaretto into a glass. Even though I’m not (sadly) endorsed by the company, I’d recommend Disaronno as the liqueur of choice. Drop in a few ice cubes to keep it all chill. Then top up with cranberry juice (your choice from your local supermarket), add an optional Marashino cherry, and you’re done.

The Marashino cherry works particularly well with this drink, complimenting the taste of the cocktail.

This drink is delicious, but has no name (as far as I’m aware). If you know the correct name, please let me know. Or just let me know your suggestions. Otherwise, as with the rules of trick invention in skateboarding, I invented the drink and I’m naming it.

I’d also just say that Amaretto is a wonderful drink just on its own, or with ice: it makes a fantastic digestif. Adding cranberry juice is an excellent alternative option.

Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub urges you to drink responsibly.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #29

Yo! Here we are again, tout le monde – a treat for lovers of music on vinyl! That’s right – another Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, where I play my way through a big ol’ stack of 7″ singles and have a big time knees up whilst I do it.

There are literally dozens of 45 rpm records chez moi: some classic, some crap. I love ’em all. With a few drinkies to ease things along, we’re in for a great evening.

Here’s the latest playlist:

  1. The Mission – “Severina” / “Tomorrow Never Knows”
  2. Joe Fagin – “Back with the Boys Again” / “Get it Right”
  3. Samantha Fox – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” / “Dream City”
  4. Samantha Fox – “I Surrender (To the Spirit of the Night”) / “The Best is Yet to Come”
  5. Lacuna Coil – “Our Truth”/ “Without a Reason”
  6. Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus – ” We All Stand Together” / “We All Stand Together (Humming Version)”
  7. Slade – “7 Year Bitch” / “Leave Them Girls Alone”
  8. Demon – “Wonderland” / “Blackheath”
  9. Sex Pistols – “Silly Thing” / “Who Killed Bambi”
  10. Bad Manners – “Can Can” / “Armchair Disco”
  11. Doctor & The Medics – “Burn” / “Captain Frazer”
  12. 2 in a Room – “Wiggle It” / “Take Me Away”
  13. Slade – “My Oh My” / “Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply”
  14. T’Pau – “China in Your Hand” / “No Sense of Pride”
  15. Belinda Carlisle – “I Get Weak” / “Should I Let You In?”
  16. Madonna – “Crazy for You” / Sammy Hagar – “I’ll Fall in Love Again”
  17. Billy Ocean – “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car” / “Showdown”
  18. Scorpions – “Wind of Change” / “Restless Nights”
  19. Jack Parnell & His Orchestra – “Galloping Home (Theme From Black Beauty” / “Hawaii Five-O”
  20. Then Jericho – “Big Area” / “The Big Sweep”

Wow. From the Sex Pistols to the Frog Chorus – as always, it’s an eclectic night at the Virtual Hot tub on Singles Night! That might not be Paul McCartney’s greatest moment, but to be fair, I loved Rupert the Bear when I was a toddler, so consider me a fan.

Some notes:

The first Sam Fox single is credited as the “Samantha Fox Box”, as it comes in a carboard boxset thing with a poster. The second Sam Fox single is a Limited Edition blue vinyl single, in a gatefold photo pack. Pretty cool, and both from bargain bins.

Also from a bargain bin, the Lacuna Coil single is picture disc – and only cost me £1. Crazy bargain!

Lots of songs I loved in this evening’s playlist: the Pistols easily being my favourite. The worst was that Scorpions song, that was rubbbish.

Variety is the spice of life, and this Singles Night playlist was indeed spicy. Great tracks. More soon!

UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader Album Review

UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader

Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records

Release date: 27/05/2022 and 08/07/2022

Running time: 38 mins and 52 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10 and 8.5/10

Recap time: regular readers may remember that yours truly recently reviewed the re-issue of “Work in Progress” by punk veterans UK Subs.  You may also recall that that album covered the letter W in the bands ongoing mission to release an album for every letter of the alphabet.  Well, the good news is that Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records are also releasing the next two instalments in the series – that’s the letters X and Y (but you knew that).

Working through chronologically, we have “XXIV” – which the lovely record company peeps have released on drool-worthy double 10” vinyl, one green, one clear.  Yummy.  Our first song is an absolute belter: the full-on turbo romp ‘Implosion 77’.  Hold on tight and buckle up!  There’s plenty more fast’n’nasty thrills on offer too: ‘Speed’ has a merciless UK82 vibe; ‘Monkeys’ has a classic Subs singalong chorus; ‘Garden of Good & Evil’ is another pogo-till-your-pants-fall-off rocker.

There’s some well-placed variety too, with the harmonica adorned political thrust of ‘Coalition Government Blues’; and Bo Diddley swagger of ‘Wreckin’ Ball’ – both showing hints of the bands R’n’B origins (like as in, what R’n’B used to be).  Lyrically there are plenty of targets for Charlie to attack, both politically and socially.  ‘Memento Mori’ finishes the album off with one most aggressive tunes on offer, leaving us with a great album of 14 adrenaline infused songs.

“Yellow Leader” follows in a similar fashion, featuring 18 songs (whereas the original vinyl was cut to just 14 due to running times).  To be released on slinky, divine double 10” vinyl (one red, one turquoise here), it’ll be a feast for the eyes and ears.  Again, the album is crammed with more relentless punk rock shenanigans like ‘Sick Velveteen’, ‘Chemical’ and ‘Heathens’, all of which will have you jumping around the room like a monkey on a lava stream.

As the previous record, there’s plenty of other sounds and ideas here: single ‘Sin City Blues’ has a killer rockabilly feel; and ‘Rebellion Song’ breaks out the acoustic guitar.  The only mis-step is ‘Archaeology’, a strange post -punk/goth style experiment that while not awful, isn’t a total success.  All in all, the quality of music is impressively high and the recordings sound excellent.

And there you go, music lovers: not one, but TWO albums of mighty UK Subs songs, lovingly compiled and curated by those nice folks at Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records.  You lucky people.  Pick ‘em up while you can, nobody is this fortunate twice.    

You can find UK Subs on Facebook and Twitter.

Cherry Red Records have a website. Plus you can find them on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Bandcamp.

This review is a joint presentation from Ever Metal and Platinum Al.

Liverpool Comic Con 2022

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Exhibition Centre, Liverpool

Sunday 20th November 2022

OK here we go – a family trip out to Liverpool Comic Con! And boy, this convention was BIG. I made the journey to this con last year and had a fairly damn good experience, so it was exciting to return. A wet and chilly day was on the cards, but there’s always a warm welcome in good ol’ Liverpool. And we’d be inside all day, anyway.

Last time around, the queueing situation was a proper nightmare. This time, I made the wiser decision of not having “early bird” tickets and arriving at 9am. I didn’t even bother to get to the event for our allotted time (11am) – we strolled along at 12.30pm and pretty much avoided any queueing whatsoever.

That’s the way to do it. There’s no point in standing in a line, outside, in November.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even aware that there was a time we were supposed to go in. I hadn’t looked that closely at the ticket, we were just late. But as they were still letting the last of the 11am people in when we arrived much later, I think this result was a winner.

Anyone who attended this convention (on either day, Saturday or Sunday, from what I’ve heard) had a hard time with the sheer amount of people there. It was rammed. But it seems like Sunday was the better of the two days, so again a stroke of luck. The Exhibition Centre was very busy, but just about manageable.

Several interesting guests were present, but no one I was too concerned about. Meeting guests isn’t that big a deal to me (unless they’re Hammer Horror related!). And the prices were not cheap. It was an impressive bunch of celebs, though, with Stranger Things featuring highly.

Instead, I had my fun perusing the fabulous stalls, buying merch and taking photos of the wonderful Cosplay crowd.

There seemed to be fewer people in costume at this event, but that could be down to the weather (can’t have been fun for some of those who did dare); and the sheer numbers of people there, hiding the view.

What Cosplayers I did encounter, however, were superbly talented and spectacular, as always. And lovely people too! Thanks to all of you who let me take your photo, it’s very much appreciated.

Merch wise, my crew and I went a bit crazy – but Christmas is looming on the horizon, so to hell with the cost of living crisis. I picked up a couple of Star Wars figures and a few Marvel comic books, so was happy. There was a distinct lack of action figures across the board though – a result of the clash with the event in London? Not enough Star Wars, MOTU or ReAction figures to be found.

The retailer we were most excited to see again was Cult Locations Ink, who create intricately detailed, framed art prints of film and TV locations. A couple more were added for our new collection, including my favourite, the Munsters’ House.

We’d been on our feet for hours, when finally the time came for us to wander off home. Yes, it was a busy day, but still good fun and a good atmosphere. I’ll be back.

The Liverpool Comic Con website is here.

Check out Cult Locations Ink here.