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.

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.

Duel – Album Review

Duel – In Carne Persona

Heavy Psych Sounds (Purple Sage PR)

Release date: 01/10/2021

Running Time: 39 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Wait, it can’t be time for a new Duel album, surely?  It only seems like yesterday that I reviewed their last work for Ever Metal.  Time flies when you’re having fun, eh?  Well, that last album “Valley of Shadows”, also from Heavy Psych Sounds, was released back in 2019 – so yes, it’s time for more Duel.  My cryo-freeze unit must have kept me out of trouble for longer than I thought.

Austin, Texas is where they came from, though Duel’s real home is good ol’ heavy metal and greasy hard rock.  Whereas with the previous record review, I made comparisons to stoner rock and 70’s proto metal, this time around, “In Carne Persona” has a much more trad metal approach.  Thundering out of the gates on the very first track, “Children of the Fire” has a galloping, early Maiden sound. 

The NWOBHM influence rages throughout the album, with some classic Sabbath heaviness and Thin Lizzy style melody for good measure.  Second track “The Veil” illustrates both sides of those 70s references with a pounding riff and laser sharp solo.

Tracks like “Anchor” and “Bite Back” take the intensity of Trouble or Saint Vitus and ramp up the pace with a ferocious Priest-like power.  “Lizard Tongue” delivers the boogie, whilst final track “Blood on the Claw” provides an epic finish to the proceedings.  Bringing the album to a huge and satisfying conclusion; it builds slowly, contrasting heavy chugging sections with refrained passages.

Superb bombastic vocals crown masterful musicianship that evokes the past masters, making “In Carne Persona” another triumphant album from Duel.  Throughout it all, Duel create a dark and brooding atmosphere, that effectively stamps their own authenticity on the old template.  Dark but never grim, it’s always exciting.

I remember a duel of sorts in my days with Purple.  One night whilst on tour somewhere, we decided to have a game of beer Russian roulette.  Thirty cans of lager on the table, one had been shaken up by yours truly and placed randomly back amongst the others.  Participants would then open one can at a time next to their ear; one unlucky player would obviously suffer the frothy consequences.

Gillan, Lord and Blackmore all started well – springing open cans next to their heads which didn’t explode, so they could drink them down.  Eventually, and inevitably, it was Ritchie who took the shaken beer to the head, he was soaked and screamed petulantly at Gillan, blaming the singer for his misfortune.  It wasn’t like he didn’t know what to expect!  Blackmore stormed off leaving the rest of us in hysterics.  What was really funny was, when Ritchie wasn’t looking, I’d switched cans on him with another frothed up bullet.  Ha!

Check out Duel on Facebook, Bandcamp and Spotify.

Heavy Psych Sounds are cool and you should check them out here. Plus, they have Facebook, Bandcamp and YouTube.

This hard rockin’ review was brought to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Live in the Mojave Desert – Album Review

Various Artists – Live in the Mojave Desert

Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Release date: Various

Running time: Various

Review by: Alun Jones

Rating: see below

Hello there!  Remember me?  It’s me, that bloke who occasionally reviews albums for Ever Metal and spins ropey old yarns about rock’n’roll.  Yeah, him.  Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, had a few things on my all-you-can-eat buffet plate recently.  More about that another time (if the lawyers allow me).  For now, recline in your favourite easy chair, and let’s review.  With me?  Good.

Right then, bit of a mammoth task, this one.  “Live in the Mojave Desert” is actually a series of five albums, each recorded live (of course) amongst the sand and rocks of the Californian desert.  It’s probably like Star Trek, when Kirk and crew are roaming around the cliffs and valleys – but in the dark, and with guitars and lights and stuff – and no one dies (hopefully).

Up first in my sequence of albums is the legendary Earthless, a band who should need no introduction.  I listened to their offering whilst on a trip to North Wales; sadly the surf was flat, but the sonic musings of this three piece fitted perfectly the rolling roads between green valleys and big skies.  In the land of druids and standing stones, witches and warriors, this was a perfect soundtrack.  The songs are a journey in themselves, awash with psychedelic Hendrix style explorations.  Only three songs, but they’re plenty lengthy and offer huge scope.  It’s actually quite beautiful. (9/10)

Next on the list was Mountain Tamer, a band I’m not familiar with previously, but a cool name.  And a cool name goes a long way with me.   The Mountain Tamer sound is raw and in-your-face, with mighty, meaty riffs that clunk around in full-on doom style.  There’s also a mind expanding, trippy element to their music, leaving me with the impression of Black Flag in a collision with Hawkwind.  This unique approach is best exemplified by stand out tracks “Black Noise” and “Scorched Earth”, but it’s all damn fine. (8/10)

An offering in this series from my old buddies Nebula was very welcome, their brand of psych drenched sci-fi hard rock being something I’m somewhat partial to.  This is the album with the most obviously “live” feel – not that it’s sloppy at all, the very occasional tiny imperfections and wall of fuzz give a genuine and celebratory vibe.  Opening track “To the Centre” is a feedback drenched, blistering explosion.  “Giant” is another standout track with a bouncing, crazy gonzo riff. (8/10)

Spirit Mother are another band I’ve not heard before, and they were a real surprise.  Their first song, “Tonic (Exodus Inc)” is straight off the soundtrack of some forgotten Italian/Turkish 1970s horror movie.  The band take the standard desert/doom rock and add violin, and everything veers off in a totally unexpected direction.  From mournful 70s rock on “Ether” to creating their own genre of gothic Spaghetti Western (“Dead Cells”), it’s like Morricone on peyote orchestrating The Exorcist.  Strangely beguiling. (8.5/10)

The album I listened to last in the collection was the debut release of STÖNER, the very aptly named stoner rock “supergroup” which features Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu, solo etc) and Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, QOTSA, Mondo Generator etc etc).  With Brant’s drummer, Ryan Güt whacking the tubs.  As a fan of these rogues’ other bands, I was definitely curious about this release.  No fear here: this is exactly what I hoped it would be: desert rock royalty.  “Rad is Rad” features a relentless, rolling bassline that drags the listener along on a head-nodding journey whilst Brant croons in his laid-back manner.  The big, groovy bass continues in “The Older Kids”, and the tracks develop a trancelike vibe as it progresses.  And strap yourself in for the final song, “Tribe/Fly Girl” – over 13 minutes that will melt your eyeballs.  Definitive. (9/10)

That’s it: five albums, five bands, and a mind-blowing excursion into the remote desert valleys.  Whether showcasing how it should be done, or abducting the listener in a smoke-filled UFO to be probed in new realms, these live collections are a trip.

Here’s a ton of links! Click away for more info on this awesome music…

Start with Heavy Psych Sounds, they have a website, Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

Earthless do the web thing here, with some Facebook and Twitter.

Mountain Tamer kick in the sky with Facebook and Bandcamp.

Go crazy with Nebula via Facebook.

Spirit Mother have you covered with some weberation, Facebook, Bandcamp and Insta.

Finally, have a look at Stoner’s web presence here and Facebook it too.

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

Brown Acid: The Twelfth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Twelfth Trip

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 20/04/2020

Running time: 33 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Well, who’d have thought it?  Here’s the twelfth instalment of the Brown Acid series from RidingEasy Records, their ongoing exploration of rare, lost and forgotten treasures from the late 60s and early seventies.  These proto-metal, hard rock and heavy psych riches are continuing to turn up, thankfully curated and shared with a new, wider audience.  They still haven’t run out of steam, which is very good news.   

This time, the Professors of Rock (“Prockfessors”, anyone?  Nah, never mind) have released ten more crazily good tracks from the past.  As can be expected, the bands are deep fried and the guitars are fuzzier than a Macdonalds burger-flipper’s chin.

And so, we commence with “Mother Samwell” by The Waters: a blinding, acid-drenched rocker from 1969.  How can this have been lost for so long?  Up next is “Vibrations” by Village S.T.O.P.; featuring Hendrix style guitar in another pacey rocker.  Though very much of their time, these songs pack a ton of energy – you’re gonna want to freak out.  Right out.

“1930” was quite a year, claim White Lightning, with a funky, chunky marauder of a tune that’s like Grand Funk, on the rare occasions GF got it right.  Shane serves up some proper skronky organ with “Woman (Don’t You Go)”, reminiscent of a shrieky, early Purple.  Then the keyboards get even skronkier with Ace Song Service’s “Persuasion”, though the attack is harsher.

Opus Est really kick out the jams with “Bed”, which has a killer riff that would please Gibbons or Page.  The Mopptops have a terrible band name (maybe that’s why they disappeared), but their song “Our Lives” is one of the heavier, more vicious sounding tracks here.  It’s a punk rock bruiser that seems totally out of time – surely this can’t be 1968?

A bland band name, but Artist inject their song “Every Lady Does It” with enough hip-shaking Hendrix raunch to raise the roof.  Great chorus too; this is faultless.  Then it’s more great lo-fi garage ZZ Top with “Comin’ Home” by Stagefright, before we finish with Dickens (great name!) and their weird fuzz metal with minimal production, “Don’t Talk About My Music”.

Whether they’re discovering hidden gems in dusty tombs, or exhuming abandoned corpses and bringing them back to life – pick your metaphor: the RidingEasy Forensics Department have managed to surprise yet again.  Their quest seems never ending, but we can be thankful that these dedicated scholars continue to discover hitherto abandoned sonic delights.

It’s harder to pick out gems which shine brighter than the others this time around, but “Brown Acid: the Twelfth Trip” manages to reach a high standard across the board.  Very enjoyable, and recommended listening for when Jimi and Janis pop round for some mushroom tea.

Why not do some internets with RidingEasy records on their website, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Insta?

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

1968 – Album Review

1968 – Salvation, If You Need…

Self-released & No Profit Recordings

Release date: 20/04/2021

Running time: 44 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

For this review of “Salvation, If You Need…”, the second album from UK stoner rock titans 1968, I promise that there will be no messing about, no silly stories, no nonsense whatsoever.  I’m not even drinking.  Rather, I will endeavour to write a serious review that treats this album with the respect it deserves.  Not enough respect to get the article written on schedule, mind; but hey – I never said I was perfect.

Anyone familiar with 1968 from their previous efforts will not be disappointed to learn that the band’s strengths are in full flow here.  Thankfully, they’ve also pushed boundaries and explored their psychedelic tendencies further than ever before.  Witness opening track “Railroad Boogie”, which teases a funky Blaxploitation groove before unleashing the glorious big riff sound that we expect.

Comparing 1968 to Kyuss is far too obvious and lazy.  Jimi Ray’s voice has some of that gruff John Garcia sound (with a little later-period TSOL vocalist Joe Wood), though his vocals have matured to a sincere, soulful timbre.  See also, guitarist Sam Orr: schooled in Sabbath riffology and Lizzy attitude, here his Hendrix aspirations are allowed to fly unrestrained.  Magnificent washes of sound cascade and add colour everywhere, without being obtrusive.

“Blackwing” is the highlight for me: a refrain that’ll slip into your ears and lodge there.  It’s pointless trying to remove it.  Whether happy accident or hard slog, this is an epic riff.  “Eastern Wind” follows a similar path, but offers enough of its own controlled chaos to stand on its own two feet. 

Tom Richards’ bass warms up “Here It Lies” and expertly keeps the vibe dialled on a grungy, early Soundgarden pace.  The raw, unrefined blues of “Small Victories” and “God Bless” also allow drummer Dan Amati to show he can play refined and delicate, as well as thundering and determined.    

Yes, 1968 are undoubtedly still inspired by the classic rock of the late 60s/early 70’s, but we’re also drinking beers in Satan’s Dive Bar, somewhere in Seattle, with a jukebox that’s stuck on Badmotorfinger.  And some Budgie, too, based on the solid cover of that band’s “Guts” that shows up here.   

Look, I’ve tried to be serious for once, and I hope you appreciate it, reader.  “Salvation, If You Need…” is a truly magnificent piece of work.  I’ve been playing it for ages and it hasn’t aged.  I’m still discovering little delights everywhere.  It has scale and pace that other bands don’t dare trifle with.  A contender for Album of the Year, so long as I can get hold of the imminent vinyl release.

Now, who wants to hear about the time Ozzy, Belinda Carlisle and me gate-crashed Venom’s Satanic picnic?

I lied about not drinking, by the way.     

You can find 1968 on Bandcamp, and also follow their social media adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This Platinum Al review has been produced with the aid of Ever Metal.       

Lugosi – Album Review

Lugosi – Video Nasty

Self-released (BJF PR)

Release date: 12/03/2021

Running time: 27 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

OK, here we go!  The clue’s in the title, folks – you can probably figure out where we’re headed with a band called Lugosi straight off the (vampire) bat.  If not, let me give you some pointers…

To get to Lugosi’s haunted house, depart from the Ramones’ basement, travel up Misfits Avenue, take a left at Danzig Drive, head on past Lemmy’s Bar’n’Grill till you get to 1313 Mockingbird Lane.  And you’ve arrived: horror themed punk’n’roll with fast’n’furious tunes and daft lyrics about dodgy old horror and sci-fi movies.  In other words, exactly the kind of goth rock Halloween shindig that your ol’ Uncle Al loves to crash.

Let’s get the devil-locked elephant in the room dealt with first: ‘cos there’s going to be a Misfits reference in nearly every sentence I write of this review!  To be fair, although there’s an undoubted Misfits influence in Lugosi’s work, it’s more in the lyrical content: songs about vampires, Dawn of the Dead and devil worship are aplenty, but in a tongue in cheek, Hammer horror style rather than any serious Satanic pretence.  This is music made by fans of cheesy, campy horror classics for other fans of the same.

The music itself has less of the big “WOAH” Danzig choruses and a more Motorhead inspired punk’n’roll sound, like Supersuckers  or Zeke.  There’s even a really cool instrumental in the middle of “They Came from Outer Space” that has an Iron Maiden feel.  The riffs not too far from Clutch, and – is that a Thin Lizzy influence?  Well, I was surprised to learn that Lugosi are from Dublin – I imagined they were from a remote cabin in the Texas backwoods somewhere…

“Late Night Slasher Movie” starts things off perfectly, in the speedy rockin’ style I mentioned, with hilarious lyrics!  “We’re Here to Drink Blood” is one of the punkier paced, Ramones tracks – and it’s catchier than a zombie plague.  Then there’s “Soylent Green”, which reminds me of Jerry Only era Misfits (this is a good thing).  A heavier, Sabbath feel rocks right out of the grave on “The Vampyre” and “Hellfire Club”.  There’s an almost doom sound to “1313”, augmented by high-pitched, theremin like weirdness.  I think you get the idea.

“Video Nasty” is a great album, thoroughly enjoyable in many ways: a successful Frankenstein bolting together of B-movies, punk and heavy metal – ideal for your next gathering on All Hallows Eve.  Kitsch, ridiculous, over the top – and FUN.  Lugosi have really reanimated the corpse of horror punk, and – it’s alive!!!

Check out Lugosi on Facebook and Bandcamp.

This review was proudly presented by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Spelljammer – Album Review

Spelljammer – Abyssal Trip

RidingEasyRecords (UsThem Group, Palmer Turner Overdrive)

Release date: 26/02/2021

Running time: 44 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

A slow build of distortion, punctuated by air raid sirens, heralds the onslaught of “Bellweather”, the first track on the latest Spelljammer opus.  These guys are in no rush.  Instead, the listener sinks slowly into the mire, as first guitars and bass, then drums, stealthily enter.  Over the course of six plus minutes, the track builds beautifully, setting the style for the album to follow. 

Spelljammer are from Stockholm, Sweden – and comprise Niklas Olsson (bass and vocals); Robert Sörling (guitar) and Jonatan Rimsbo (drums).  It’s been five long years since their last album, but now they’re back with a huge, ponderous collection of sludgy, doom laden music.

Second track, “Lake”, follows the hypnotic incline of the opener with a brutal riff and throaty vocals, before descending into a medium paced headbanger.  This track nicely encapsulates the contrasts between heavy, thunderous ferociousness and trancelike wonderment.

The band composed these songs in the seclusion of a remote house in the country.  The various shifting sections of the songs obviously reflect that concentrated effort, with a perfect ebb and flow.  Sections wind intricately between the monstrous and the calm. 

“Among the Holy” starts with a creeping pace before erupting into the album’s biggest rocker.  The title track opens with a sample from some obscure horror movie, and I need to know which!  After that, it’s crawling doom which picks up speed a little in a Sabbathy manner – complete with distorted vocals.

Talking of Sabbath, “Peregrin” feels like one of those Tony Iommi instrumentals on “Master of Reality”.  It’s actually quite wonderful.  Finally, “Silent Rift” is over ten minutes of all that’s gone before, ramped up even higher.  The pace is slow, there’s no haste, Spelljammer take their time and let the music grow and breathe.

The listener will also need to take their time and truly absorb this album.  Stick on your ear goggles, turn the lights down low and bask in the inventiveness.  “Abyssal Trip” is a record that’s been carefully composed and nurtured.  The enjoyment here is in the journey and all its interwoven elements.      

As we’re talking of jam, I’m reminded of an episode with my old Black Sabbath mates.  We were at legendary Rockfield studios in Wales, and following a late night in the studio and an even later nights boozing, the band were relaxing on the lawns on a gorgeous summer day.  Bill fell asleep on the grass, and Ozzy decided to take the remains of the strawberry jam from breakfast and smear it all over Bill’s beard.  Sure enough, ten minutes later, Bill woke with a scream – brushing wasps from his face.  He jumped up and ran to a nearby pond, jumping in face first.  When he emerged, Bill looked like a Sasquatch.  He spent days rubbing ointment on his face and was finding dead insects in his beard for ages.   

Seek out more Spelljammer info on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

RidingEasy Records are also on the web, Bandcamp, Facebook and TubeYou.

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

EMQs with… Platinum Al

Last year, in the depths of lockdown and with no live entertainment to review, the glorious website that is Ever Metal was kind enough to open up their Ever Metal Questions series to the reviewers. As an EM contributor I was finally able to fulfil a lifelong ambition – and satisfy my enormous ego – by being interviewed for the site.

The questions were pretty much what we ask musicians, only I had the privilege of answering them myself. And now, in a move that confirms that I really have no shame, I proudly re-present the same interview here, at the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, it is my birthday this month…

Enjoy!

What is your name, what do you do, and can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up doing it?

My name’s Alun, AKA Platinum Al.  I write some reviews for Ever Metal, which came about through meeting Rick and Beth at Pentre Fest a while back.  “I can write!” I lied, and they’ve been too kind to bin me off ever since.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

North Wales in the UK.  We seem to be a bit out in the wilderness to the outsider, but thankfully there are a few venues that put good bands on in Chester and Wrexham (both nearby) and of course, the good old Tivoli in Buckley (just up the road).  Liverpool and Manchester are both accessible.  The big win for us though is Pentre Fest – and all the other events that North East Wales Metal Productions put on.  It’s introduced me to loads of new music and it’s right on my doorstep. 

What is your favourite latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Desert Storm’s “Omens” on APF Records is album of the year so far.  Beyond that, I’m still reeling from the wonder of Giant Dwarf’s self-titled master piece, my album of 2019.

Who have been your greatest influences, in music or in life?

George Lucas, for Star Wars – which influenced me more than anything since I was five years old.  Stan Lee and Marvel comics have also been a big inspiration.  Skateboarding in general has opened my eyes and ears to the wonder of the world since my teens. 

In music, there’s dozens: Johnny Cash, Motorhead, AC/DC, Ramones, the Damned, The Misfits, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Monster Magnet, COC, Melvins, Jimi Hendrix etc etc.

What first got you into music?

I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack first of all; it still has an amazing emotional response on me even now.  The next big development was seeing the film Highlander, which I loved.  A friend of mine recommended the Queen album A Kind of Magic as it featured several songs from the film, and it’s been downhill from there.  Thankfully, through skateboarding I was introduced to music that was a bit off the beaten track, shall we say.

Which current bands or musicians would you like to see collaborate on a record?

Good question!  How about Shakin’ Stevens – the Welsh Elvis – fronting the Misfits?  Danzig can write the songs.

If you could go to any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Pentre Fest!

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

I have some pretty weird vinyl in my collection, like Roland Rat, the Wurzels and an album called “How to Strip for Your Husband”.   Oh, and a Joan Collins work out record.

If you had one message for your Ever Metal readers, what would it be?

Never ever bloody anything ever.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

So many greats to choose from (sadly).  I’ll nominate my old mate Lemmy, as I probably embarrassed myself when I met him by talking bollocks.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Stop developing new formats – you lied to us about CDs when vinyl was the ultimate.  There are some albums I own on vinyl, tape, CD and download – and I’ve had to buy every single one.  Can we all just agree to not buy whatever new garbage format they try and lumber us with in the future? 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Vinyl, obviously!

What’s the best gig that you have been to, and why?

Black Sabbath at Birmingham Genting Arena on their “The End” tour is up there.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing/ taking photos?

Working the day job and being a dad mostly.  Then listening to music, skateboarding, riding my bike, watching old Hammer horror movies, collecting toys, drinking beer.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Sir Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Joey Ramone and Lemmy.

If they have to be alive, then James Hetfield, Glenn Danzig, Dave Vanian, Henry Rollins and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I don’t know, but I had cherry ones in Greece and they were amazing!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just thanks for giving me the opportunity to flaunt my massive ego by doing an interview, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!  HAHA!

Oh, and to the readers of Ever Metal: thanks for reading, and never forget that we are fans just like you and we do this for the love of the music.  Never say die!

Read more Ever Metal staff EMQs here.