UK Subs – Album Review

UK Subs – Work in Progress

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 22/04/2022

Running time: 41 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Ladies and gentlemen: the UK Subs.  A fine collective of upstanding, noble samurai and no mistake.  Led by the indomitable Charlie Harper, the band have roots stretching right back to the origin of the London punk scene (and actually, a fair bit further than that).   The band are still touring and recording all this time later, albeit with changing line ups throughout the years, so their integrity and passion should never be in any doubt. 

Casual observers may not be aware that the UK Subs have released an album for every letter of the alphabet (plus more).  That’s no mean feat.  What is somewhat daunting, is that’s a lot for any new fans who want to collect everyone of those releases!  Yet fear not, music lovers: Cherry Red records have been gracious enough to re-release the 2011 album “Work in Progress”, on sexy double 10” gold and silver vinyl.  For anyone struggling to keep up, that means the punters have no excuse to at least have the letter W from the list in the bag.

And what will discerning music fans find within this sumptuous collection?  Why, fourteen songs of the finest punk rock vintage, of course.  That means a blitzkrieg of blinding rockers like ‘Creation’, ‘Radio Unfriendly’ and the brilliantly titled ‘Hell is Other People’.  Some bloke called Lars Frederickson, from a band called Rancid, co-wrote ‘This Chaos’ – another brain melter – and you can even bang your head to ‘Children of the Flood’, if you want to.

Punk rock unbelievers, I say unto thee: these songs do not all sound the same.  They are not simply constructed, amateur-hour noise.  All the tracks are full of energy and have their own identity.  There’s a hint of rockabilly on ‘Eighteen Wheels’, R&B garage rock on the bouncy Sonics cover ‘Strychnine’ and ‘All Blurs into One’ has an almost psychedelic sheen. 

The only potential misfires are ‘Tokyo Rose’, which at first sounds a bit too Hollywood Sunset Strip (but redeems itself after a few listens) and ‘Rock’n’Roll Whore’, which could be a bit – well, dated lyrically.

This UK Subs album admirably highlights a classic band who are still fighting on, taking their music to the world.  It shows the roots of the band in R&B, whilst also providing a link from the Ramones to US hardcore bands like Circle Jerks and Descendents, and ever onwards.  After all these years, the UK Subs are still a “Work in Progress” and show no signs of stopping.

Right, see you later.  I’m off to hang around in a graveyard with my old mate Dave Vanian.  Captain and Rat, you can only come if you promise to stop setting fire to mattresses.

You can find UK Subs on Facebook and Twitter.

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

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

Toyah – Album Review

Toyah – Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! (2021 Remaster)

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 13/05/2022

Running time: 61 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Now, your first question may well be: “How did Platinum Al manage to slip a Toyah review onto a Rock/Metal website?”  Well, dear reader, let me tell you a story.  The first time I ever saw Toyah live was at a local club, where the dynamic lady herself was backed by the mighty Girlschool.  All of these fearsome females put on an explosive show, comprising of ultra-rocked-up originals from both artists and classic rock covers.  So yes, Toyah is more rock’n’roll than you (or I) will ever be.

To be fair, despite her pop pedigree, Toyah Willcox has always been more Bowie than Kylie.  And on this reissue of the 1980 live album, Cherry Red have presented us with a vibrant – even, dare I say it, rocking – bunch of post punk songs that show Toyah and her band in full flight.  The expanded deluxe CD set is packaged with a DVD featuring a contemporary documentary.  For this review though, we’re focussing purely on the music.

Happily, the production is top notch.  Remastered by Nick Watson from the original master tapes, the sound is formidable.  The instruments come through crisp and clear, and the vocals are excellent, as shown on ‘Victims of the Riddle’ where keyboards maintain a steady melody while lead guitar erupts with energy.  Likewise, bass and drums shine on ‘Love Me’ – it’s particularly impressive considering we’re dealing with a 40-year-old live album.

Highlights on “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” include ‘Bird in Flight’, ‘Danced’ (which reminded me of the Skids) and the occult war chant of ‘Ieya’.  Never truly dark enough to be goth, the songs here are more “Scary Monsters” with a generous helping of Hawkwind space rock, especially on ‘Race Through Space’.

Through it all, Toyah’s one-of-a-kind voice soars.  Toyah has never stopped writing and performing music, acting, presenting and so on; these days she’s famous for her lockdown YouTube videos performing kitchen-based rock covers with husband, King Crimson legend, Robert Fripp.  It’s great to hear “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” remastered and in pristine condition.  Even speaking as a vinyl purist, it looks like my ancient vinyl copy has had its day.

Check out Toyah on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or her own website thingy.

You can also investigate the many wonders offered by Cherry Red Records on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp and their own webalicious site.

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

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #18

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 26th August 2022

Three years. It’s been nearly three years since the last Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head in Mold, north Wales. The pandemic put this event on hold for quite a while, but finally it was time for a triumphant return to the decks.

Let’s recap the concept: each participant gets a 15 minute slot to play whatever vinyl they like. That’s it. Very simple. And good fun. Have a few beers, chat about music, discover something new to listen to.

Here’s my ;playlist from the night:

Sweet Apple – Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)

I wanted to start my set up with this gorgeous, uplifting track by Sweet Apple. J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr) is in the band, and Mark Lanegan guests on co-vocals. A sublime piece of melodic, alt rock pop. First song on their album “The Golden Age of Glitter”.

The Four Horsemen – Nobody Said It Was Easy

And then on to some early 90’s southern rock, courtesy of the Four Horsemen. This band were signed to Def American and produced by Rick Rubin. If you dig AC/DC tinged Skynyrd and ZZ Top, their wax is worth investing in. I have the album, but this was the 7 inch single version of this song.

Clutch – D.C. Sound Attack!

A stand out track from the “Earth Rocker” album by Clutch, a band I am somewhat obsessed with. I love this song, it’s energetic rock’n’roll with a funky riff – the instrumental is so good I could actually groove to it. D.C. Sound Attack!!!

Social Distortion – Dear Lover

What a band. The opening track from Social D’s “White Light White Heat White Trash” album, this is full of Mike Ness’s heartfelt angst in a pounding, mid paced punk rock’n’roller.

The Beatnix – Stairway to Heaven

The Beatnix are a Beatles cover band. Here, they’ve covered Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in an early 60’s Beatles style. It’s actually really good and sounds authentic. I think this song raised a few eyebrows, starting off resembling an old Fab Four track but including the unmistakable lyrics. On the other side, there’s an Elvis impersonator called Neil Pepper, covering the same song – a great single, you need a copy.

I had a really enjoyable evening for Vinyl Night, in fact I’m sure everyone did! Thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music in Mold for hosting and organising everything. Hope to see you all again soon!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website 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.

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.

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” / “Show 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.

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.

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.