Chester Comic Con 2022

Chester Comic Con

Chester Racecourse

19 June 2022

Chester Comic Con was held recently, on a mild summer Sunday afternoon at Chester Racecourse. It was Father’s Day, and I made sure that my personal choice for the day was to attend this event for a fun filled afternoon.

I’ve not been to a comic con in Chester for a couple of years, due to the pandemic and all that kinda shiz. As previous, the racecourse hosted the event and it made for a good venue, with plenty of open outdoor space. Indoors was a bit more compact, but there were enough trader tables to fill the place without getting too manic.

There were also a few showbiz and comic book guests in attendance, though my main aim was to plunder as much action figures and comic books as possible. But have no fear, I also had my camera with me, to take some photos and hopefully provide an idea of what it was like to be there.

Here you’ll see some photos of the excellent Cosplayers, who were all very friendly and gallantly agreed to pose for pic. Thank you all.

Despite the smaller scale of Chester Comic Con – in comparison to some of the bigger events at Liverpool or the NEC for example – it’s a fantastic convention with a good family atmosphere. I had an excellent time, and bought a load of old 70s Marvel comics. Very happy indeed.

The website for Chester Comic Con is here.

Wax Mekanix/Troll Teeth – EP Review

Wax Mekanix/Troll Teeth – Blunt (Split EP)

Electric Talon Records

Release Date: 22/10/2021

Running Time: 14.32

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Now the good folks at Electric Talon Records issued this split EP back in October last year, so yet again, apologies for my tardiness.  I’ll think of an excuse by the end of this review.  For now, let’s just cover some basic info: two bands, namely Troll Teeth and Wax Mekanix, with five songs split between them.  Style wise, we’re in for a journey – so stay sharp.

Wax Mekanix is an artist I’m already familiar with from his exceptional “Mobocracy” album from 2020.  That record covered a wide base genre wise, from hard rock to folky guitar and any number of surprises in between.  Wax hasn’t stood still, instead deciding to venture into yet newer fields with the three tracks shared here.  So first up we get “Head”, an enticing blend of acoustic guitar, tribal drums and percussion, and rowdy vocals.  There’s no ferocious riffage here, but the infectious rhythms and Eastern sounding chords will drag any listener along.

“Manchester Strawberry Blonde” is a short interlude, with almost Native American percussion, augmented with lyrics that recount a despairingly tragic incident.  The lyrics on all tracks are worth a read, particularly here.  Wax’s final offering is “Freak Boutique”, where the mellow acoustic guitar is embellished again with Eastern rhythms.  As a result, this is less campfire singalong and more a voyage across exotic lands.                 

Troll Teeth have the best band name I’ve heard in years.  Thankfully, they can also deliver some righteous music too.  “The Pigs are on Parade Today” has a dense, mid paced stoner rock approach that is instantly cinematic: perfectly appropriate for watching vast desert skies growing dark and the heavens lighting up.  “Barbs on a Wire” is more aggressive, but still retains a sense of melody along with the rolling, raucous riff.  It’s progressive in the best sense of the word, and also addictive with it’s relentless, undulating drive and fiery lead guitar.  If you dig Baroness, you’ll dig this.

At first listen, the two bands here seem somewhat different – but it becomes obvious that they’re tied together by their expansive, wide view of the world – and it’s sounds.  Wax Mekanix and Troll Teeth are both visionaries.  Here’s to hearing a new full length from each, soon.

What was that?  What was my excuse for this review being so late?  Well, ah… I had completed it ages ago, honest, but Ozzy Osbourne ate it.

Find Wax Mekanix doing some online stuff on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Troll Teeth are waiting to meet you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Bandcamp.

And you can check out Electric Talon records here.

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

New Skateboard 2022 – Death Benson

OK, I get no one reads these posts about my latest skateboard, but I’m not writing this for an audience. I’m writing it for me. One day, when I’m ancient like Yoda, I’ll be able to look back and have a memento of skateboards I’ve had in the past.

Wish I had at least a photo of the decks I had when I was a kid in the 80’s. That would’ve been cool. As it is, I can’t even remember them all. Not so anymore. Now, I’ll have a permanent record of them all.

For the first time in a long time, I saved up some cash and bought a full, new set up. For a while, I’ve been recycling my trucks (and sometimes wheels) to be as economical as possible. This time, it was new everything – ordered from the very nice folks at Native Skate Store.

Here are the details:

  • Death skateboards Benson Devil Woman II 8.25″ deck (with free Jessup grip tape)
  • Independent Trucks 144 Mid Stage II
  • Death skateboards wheels 52mm
  • Independent Trucks GP-S bearings
  • Independent Trucks allen bolts 1″

The set up has been fantastic so far, deck has nice pop and the trucks turn great. I love the graphics by Liane Plant (regular readers may remember I have an 8.5″ version of this deck to go on the wall, and I’m a big fan of Death skateboards). No complaints at all.

Though I’m not going to be able to share this post on Facebook due to the “offensive” graphic…!

See you out on the streets.

The Death Skateboards website is here.

Liane Plant’s website is here.

Visit the Native Skate Store here.

Brown Acid: The Thirteenth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Thirteenth Trip

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 31/10/2021

Running time: 35 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Back in early 1970, I was in LA working for Jim Morrison, singer of the Doors.  Morrison was a pretentious, drunken bore – but we did have a few old laughs.  This one time, Jimbo was mid-liaison with a young lady in her upstairs apartment, and I had to pick him up in his new car before the pair were interrupted by her husband.  Parked in a gleaming white Dodge Challenger under the first-floor window, there was no fire escape and Jim had to jump out of the window onto the roof of his car.  It was a hard top, not a cabriolet, and Jim’s fat arse flattened it like an egg box when he hit it.  He wasn’t in the best shape at that point.  Wrecked that beautiful car, too.  Luckily, I could still see out of the window, and drove off in hysterics, while chubby Jim tried to squeeze into his tiny leather trousers.

Great days, indeed.  And the memories of that time always come flooding back when I spin one of these Brown Acid compilations from RidingEasy Records.  Yet again, the guys have dug out some long-lost treasures of the early hard rock and proto metal variety, to return phoenix like from the netherworld.

Things get underway splendidly with “Run Run” by Max, a funky riff rocker that will light up your lava lamp straight away.  It’s probably my favourite on another strong collection.  Next is “Dark Street” by Ralph Williams and the Wright Brothers – fuzzy guitars and great vocal melodies with a faint air of menace.  Geyda provide “Third Side”, another pacey rocker, reminiscent of the MC5.

Following that, there’s Gary Del Vecchio, who’s apparently “Buzzin’”.  But then, who wasn’t in those days?!  It’s party time blues rock in the vein of early Zep.  John Kitko is suffering from “Indecision”, as proven by the psychedelic jam of the start contrasting with the speedy, aggressive main body of the song – with Alice Cooper-like vocals.   

“Hope” by Bacchus reminded me of old Jimbo’s band doing “Roadhouse Blues”.  Master Danse are up next with a very heavy blues number, “Feelin’ Dead”.  It’s a slow, ponderous song with a melancholy vibe – which I’ll swear was stolen by The Cult for their obscure B-side “Wolf Child’s Blues”.

Orchid offer up the weakest track on the album, “Go Big Red”, a fairly unexceptional garage rock number.  It’s fun and still has some charm, though.  Then you’ve got Dry Ice and “Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky”, a crazy fast paced number that’s like The Monkees and Jimi Hendrix jamming a Eurovision novelty song.  On drugs.  Finally, a strong final track from Good Humore, “Detroit” – a catchy tribute with a sprinkling of MC5 at their most rock’n’roll.

And there we have it: another fine collection of rock fossils unearthed and displayed for our enjoyment, never to be forgotten again.  It may be “the Thirteenth Trip”, but this ain’t unlucky for some – it’s gold all the way.

Remember that World Wide Web thing? Well, you can check out RidingEasy Records at various site webs, such as their own, Bandcamp, Facebooks, Twidder, ChewTube and Insta.

This review was presented to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Scarecrow – Album Review

Scarecrow – Scarecrow II

Wise Blood Records

Release date: 22/10/2021

Running Time: 44 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

You could say I was a little confused when I first heard “The Endless Ocean Overture”, the opening track on this second album from Scarecrow.  I know the clue’s in the song title, but this really is a big, full on orchestral piece – complete with moody storm sounds and crashing waves.  I thought the Ever Metal Delivery Monkey had sent me one of those symphonic metal monstrosities by mistake – there are NO GUITARS here.  At least not on the first song.

Not that it’s a bad track – it’s actually very atmospheric and very bloody clever.  Just a bit of a surprise, that’s all.

Scarecrow are a Russian doom rock band, taking their inspirations from the classic seventies masters like Sabbath and Zeppelin.  When track 2 – “Blizzard” – kicked in, I realised my mistake.  Yes, here we have it: blues based heavy rock that could have easily been produced in 1973.  Groovy riffs, batteringly good drum breaks, high pitched wailing vocals – all the tropes are present and correct.  “Blizzard” has all these, plus relentless changes of pace which means the listener can bang their head or swing their bell bottom jeans all in one song.

“Magic Flower” has a slower, doom blues sound with some mouth organ for additional retro stylings.  There’s even a folky mid-section with some Plant-esque banshee screams.  Up next is “Spirit Seducer”, a rocker that’s more of the Iommi sound already hinted at, and some pounding rhythm. 

Scarecrow are nothing if not ambitious.  “The Moors” is a hell of an epic: warm acoustic guitar intro; doom laden heavy riff, ethereal keys: all the ingredients are here, and happily we reach another Sabbath like peak in the middle of the song.  Some of the orchestral feel of the opener makes a well-judged return here, adding to the bombast. 

When I heard the intro to “The Golden Times”, it was easy to make the comparison to Sabbath tracks like “Orchid” and “Fluff”.  This song flows along serenely, with the vocals making me think I’d started listening to a new Wolfmother recording.  Another multi part piece, best to just mellow out and enjoy the ride – till the increasing pace runs off with your ears.

The range and scope of this album really is very impressive.  “Scarecrow II” is an accurate love letter to the giants of yester year, whilst firmly placing the bands feet alongside contemporaries like Uncle Acid and Graveyard.  Scarecrow has delivered an album that features new spins on the old ideas co-existing with brave, surprising augmentations.     

Check out Scarecrow on Bandcamp and Facebook.

You can find Wise Blood Records on Bandcamp, Facebook and the interweb.

This review has been brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Chicken Nachos

Welcome back to the Virtual Hot Tub, where I’ll be sharing a recipe for a dish that has become a big favourite around these parts. Inspired by one of my favourite restaurants, this Mexican style dish is simply out standing. The Food Blog has been quiet for a while, so let’s jump straight back into action!

Chicken Nachos

This is a great recipe, which you can adapt to your taste – whether that be in terms of spiciness or experimenting with ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast
  • Tortilla chips
  • Chipotle paste
  • Feta cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Soured cream
  1. Place the chicken breasts in an oven proof dish, and add the chipotle paste (add this to your taste). Take a table spoon of water, and add to the dish – placing around the outside of the chicken and chipotle paste, not over it.
  2. Cover with kitchen foil, and cook for approximately 35 minutes. The length of time will depend on the size – for example, smaller chicken breasts will require less.
  3. When cooked, remove from the oven and shred/cut the chicken into small pieces.
  4. Then put the chicken back in the dish and stir it into the sauce.
  5. Cover with kitchen foil again, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Put the tortilla chips on a plate. We recommend cheap or own brand tortilla chips – these work better for us as they have a less over-powering flavour.
  7. Add the chicken over the top of the tortilla chips, then crumble feta over.
  8. Finally, add the soured cream and guacamole to taste.

And there you have it! A delicious Mexican style meal that’s exciting and full of flavour. I hope you enjoy it!

A big shout out to the amazing Death by Tacos in Chester, for the inspiration behind this dish. They created something similar for my daughter a while back which she loved – we’ve been back for more and had to devise a similar type of recipe!

TOOM – EP Review

TOOM – Behold the Basilisk EP

APF Records (For The Lost PR)

Release date: 01/10/2021

Running Time: 22 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Let’s start with a history lesson.  The “Behold the Basilisk” EP by TOOM is a dug-up time capsule, having been recorded in January 2010.  The band themselves were formed in 2007, and split not long after this recording.  What could have been a long-lost curio, to be spoken of fondly by the few who had inside knowledge, has now been reanimated and set loose by APF records.

What we have is an EP consisting of four stoner doom tracks from an extinct trio.  Like those ape dudes at the start of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, Teddy-James Driscoll, Jus Smith and Jack Newnham have been enlightened by a big, Black Sabbath obelisk – the legacy of which has been excavated for our enjoyment.

“Snake Chalmers” opens things up, with an acoustic guitar intro that’s highly reminiscent of those mellow Iommi passages from “Master of Reality”.  It’s a beautiful, yet deceptive beginning to a collection of crushingly heavy music.   Play it for Granny, she’ll be surprised as fuck when the lethal riffage of “There’s Nothing Cute About Cobras” revs up and creates utter destruction.  Growling vocals and gruesome, pounding guitars are where we’re at here.

Similar approach for “Mandark”, though this track throws in some variations in riffs and tempo, with a short, but killer “quieter” section.  Here and on the final song, “Decapodiformes”, there’s a hint of influence from the likes of Sleep, High On Fire and Mastodon – with relentless, mighty riffs powering through.       

Gone but not forgotten, then: it’s introducing and welcoming back TOOM on this impressive EP.  Makes you wonder what might have been…

Check out APF Records on Bandcamp and online.

This review is presented to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot tub #27

I promised we’d revisit Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for another Singles Night, so here we go! Another evening of playing 7 inch singles and having a few cocktails (or beers, or whatever you thirst for). There’s a massive pile of these 45 rpm records to get through, so prepare yourself!

As a quick recap for the uninitiated, I have a stack (or several) of singles that I haven’t played yet. Some have been gifts, some have been picked up – usually very cheaply – from record shops, record fairs, charity shops and carboot sales. The idea is to play through the stack of vinyl one at a time, A side the B side, and enjoy the tunes.

Now I present to you my latest playlist:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Taste the Pain” / “Shoe Me Your Soul”
  2. The Stranglers – “European Female” / “Savage Breast”
  3. The Wee Papa Girl Rappers – “We Rule” / “Rebel Rap”
  4. Salt-n-Pepa – “Shake Your Thang” / “Spinderella’s Not a Fella”
  5. Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby” / “It’s a Party”
  6. Motley Crue – “Girls, Girls, Girls” / “Sumthin’ for Nothin'”
  7. Neil Pepper (Elvis) – “Stairway to Heaven” / “The Beatnix – “Stairway to Heaven”
  8. Sham 69 – “Hurry Up, Harry” / “No Entry”
  9. Kenny Everett – “Snot Rap” / “Snot Rap (Part 2)”
  10. The Turtles – “Happy Together” / “Like the Seasons”
  11. Aerosmith – “Janie’s Got a Gun” / “Voodoo Medicine Man”
  12. Don Fardon – “Indian Reservation” / “Hudson Bay”
  13. Cerrone – “Je Suis Music” / “Rocket in the Pocket”
  14. Marty Wilde – “It’s Been Nice” / “Bad Boy”
  15. Taja Seville – “Love is Contagious” / “Mama”
  16. B.A. Robertson & Maggie Bell – “Hold Me” / “Spring Greens”
  17. Fiddler’s Dram – “Daytrip to Bangor” / “The Flash Lad”
  18. Bob Geldof – “The Great Song of Indifference” / “Hotel 75”
  19. Gary Shearston – “I Get a Kick Out of You” / “Witnessing”
  20. Mr. Mister – “Kyrie” / “Kyrie (Extended)”

A note on disc number 7 above: Neil Pepper is an Elvis impersonator, and The Beatnix are a Beatles tribute band. On this record, both have covered the Led Zeppelin classic in the style of their inspirations.

The latter half of this playlist started to wander in to some strange, unknown territory – along with featuring some decidedly dodgy songs. A while back, I purchased a box of about 100 singles at a carboot sale for a fiver, quite a lot of which was quality music. Here though, some of the dregs have started to float to the surface.

It’s not all bad though, and there’s a fair spread of awesome tracks scattered through out the list to make it a fun listen. Plus a lot of variety too, from The Crue’s dumb party metal, to classic 60’s pop from the Turtles, 80’s pop with Mr. Mister and some great old school hip hop.

I’m favouring Sham 69 and The Stranglers as particularly fine songs. And of course the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I bought because although the A side I have on an album, I wanted the B side to add to my collection.

Singles Nights are always a cool way to spend an evening. I’ll update you with another killer playlist soon.

White City Graves – Album Review

White City Graves – One Of Us

Self-Released (MDPR)

Release date: 20/08/2021

Running Time: 29 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

White City Graves released this album back in August, but I’m reviewing it in October.  Not because I’m a slacker, but because this album is totally appropriate for the Spookiest Month of the Year.  That’s right folks, we’ve jumped on the Horror Punk ghost train again, so buckle up and be prepared for a rollicking roll on the tracks to hell.

To be fair, there’s definitely a Misfits/Danzig influence with “One Of Us”, but White City Graves cast a wider net than just horror punk.  Aggressive as it is, and with the undoubted splash of melody from those aforementioned bands, these songs also owe a big debt to ugly metal bands like Motorhead, Venom and Mercyful Fate.

Like Tad jacked up on speed and Monster Energy whiskey cocktails, it’s furious and frightening.  We’re only one motel stop from chainsaw killers and rabid werewolf bikers – all of which makes Al rub his hands with glee.

“Bump in the Night” starts with a sample of an obscure B-movie (of course) and proceeds in the manner we’d expect: punk’n’roll at 200mph and snarling vocals.  “Lights Out” is a frenzied rocker with the hugest chorus on the album – think the Anti-Nowhere League partying in a haunted house and you’ll be there.      

The band give a nod to their Seattle roots with an exemplary cover of Soundgarden’s “Hunted Down”, a surprising song choice, but it makes perfect sense.  WCG take the original and inject even more brutality, but retain a little of the psychedelic feel of the original.

I’ve no idea who Brooks is, but “Brooks is Here” features a helluva fast, almost psychobilly freak out.  “Make My Blood Boil” and “Day in the Death” have a similar feel, though “Deeper” takes a more metallic approach with some added Sisters of Mercy atmos.

“One of Us” is fast and nasty, unafraid to have some fun with the horror punk cliches, but adding a ruthless heavy rock influence.  Like the best of Seattle bands, it’s an irresistible collision of punk and metal that’s fun and makes the listener beg for more.  Why aren’t more bands like this? 

My old mate Ronnie James Dio used to love Halloween.  He had fantastic costumes too: demons, zombies, imps.  I used to have to take him out Trick or Treating every year, acting as his minder.  Of course, I looked more like his parent, and most of the people thought little Ron, knocking on their door, was a child.  He got loads of candy though, and he always shared it with me.  Happy days.

Check out the fantastic White City Graves on Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

This review is presented to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Pentre Fest 2022

Pentre Fest 2022

McLean’s Pub, Pentre, Deeside

25th and 26th February, 2022

February 2022 saw the long awaited return of Pentre Fest. After falling victim to the pandemic, this local metal festival was revived and came back harder than ever. Two days of metal/rock, hosted in McLean’s pub in Pentre, Deeside, North Wales – I was over joyed to revisit this fantastic event.

Friday evening was headlined by Raised by Owls, with appearances by In Depths and my old mates Ryuko, amongst others (see the reviews below).

Saturday saw the largest audience ever at Pentre Fest, not surprising considering the legendary Blaze Bayley was headlining. Add performances from Absolva, Cadence Noir, Reaper, plus many more and it all equalled a spectacular day’s entertainment.

Despite a few of the advertised artists having to drop off due to the plague, there was a legit feast of music of various hard rockin’ types, spread over two stages. It was so good to be back: a feeling everyone seemed to share, bands and gig goers alike.

You can read the full review on the Ever Metal website here. Just for the hell of it, here are the bands that I reviewed personally.

Friday 25/02/2022

Navnlos

The first band I caught this year was Navnlos, so that was a pretty good start!  These guys deliver some heavy groove metal, powerful and relentless.  I also detected something of a nasty grunge element, like Tad jamming Pantera songs in Venom’s garage.  Navnlos feature evil riffs, primal rhythms and ogre like vocals – it’s the sound of a rampaging army of berserkers storming your tea party.  Bloody great way to kick things off!  

Hellfire Devilles

Some may have wondered how a psychobilly band would go down at a metal festival.  Well, turns out that Hellfire Devilles fitted in snugger than Tommy Lee’s underpants.  A raucous, rock’n’roll three-piece trading in high energy, foot on the gas music – these guys wrought crazy voodoo all over the outside stage.  Thumping drums, frantic guitar and slapping upright bass – along with monster movie lyrics – the set was an absolute joy.   This was freaky tiki, cocktail chaos a go-go: Killerbilly has arrived!  Do not miss Hellfire Devilles if you get chance to see them.  Main stage next time, please.

Saturday 26/02/2022

Bad Earth

Although happily installed as Pentre Fest regulars, Bad Earth have had anything but a comfortable couple of years.  With the band reduced to just founder member Geordie at one point, the addition of new members Karl and Ben has reinvigorated this band beyond belief.  Big, fast, dirty, non-stop biker rock that would make my old mate Lemmy very proud indeed, Bad Earth played brilliantly and performed a highlight set.  The term “power trio” does not do justice here: more like “annihilation trio”.  I wore my Bad Earth t-shirt ‘cos I’m a fanboy, you can fuck objective journalism sky high.

Wrath of Man

My first experience of these guys and they were intense, with a capital “fucking hell mate, who just punched my teeth out?”.  Originally slated to appear earlier, Wrath of Man were delayed due to a horde of Visigoths on the A55 (Bad Earth moved their own set to accommodate).  The Wrath encapsulate a steaming metal cauldron of brutal riff and thrashy ferocity, topped with growling vocals that suddenly bloom into melodically sung choruses.  Uncompromising, surprising and you should check them out, like now.

Master Charger

RIFF OVERLOAD!  Quick, pals – jump on Al’s Master Charger fun bus, we’re starting a club for MC fanboys and I’ve saved you all a seat!  I’d listened to Master Charger before, but never seen them live – and oh, what beauty I did behold.  Sludgier than a dirty bath, doomier than the Goat of Mendes, we sold our souls for Master Charger and they gave us a blinding set of fuzzy, scuzzy rock.  Seriously supreme, this trio destroyed all before them – afterward, I destroyed their merch table because yes, I bought bloody everything!  I’m not pissing about, Master Charger were AMAZING.

And that’s it. More soon, I hope. As always, major respect to Fozzy, Beany and crew for making this happen. Please check out the bands above and share the love.

Catch up with news at the following pages: N.E.W. Metal Productions, Goodfor Audio, McLeans Pentre.