Moths/The Stone Eye – EP Review

Moths/The Stone Eye – Split

Self-released (Dewar PR)

Release date: 21/08/2020

Running time: 26 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.  Which is why I like to mix my drinks.  And my strippers.   Why stick to just one, when you can explore everything life has to offer?  This split EP offers two bands and four tracks in total, showcasing a considerable amount of musical diversity and talent.

First up is Puerto Rican band Moths, with their track “Intervention”.  Beginning deceptively calm, restrained and quite beautiful, it soon builds and descends from a chunky stoner riff.  And then, at pretty much the halfway mark, “Intervention” erupts into a full-on aggressive growl fest, though still portraying an adept progressive spirit.  

The meandering intrigue of the opening track is followed by a less surprising cover of the Black Sabbath classic “Hand of Doom”.  A great song, but I was hoping for more original material or an unusual cover.  No fear though, Moths inject the Sabs tune with plenty of atmosphere, the powerhouse vocals of Damaris Rodriguez helping to make their own mark on the song.  Not easy with a genuine metal standard like this, Moths have the class to pull it off.

Then it’s over to The Stone Eye, for their track “Prescence of the Mind”.  These guys are from Philadelphia, PA in the USA.  A little harder to pin a style on, they journey on a stoner path that adds in psychedelic detours akin to some of the best 90s alternative rock – but never abandoning a gutsy garage rock swagger.

A cover of the old trad ballad “Wayfaring Stranger” is next from The Stone Eye.  Delivered in a bluesy style, it contrasts nicely with the other songs.  It both delights and begs for another play.

And there you have it: four songs, different in style but each displaying a sound that seems to well define both bands.  An excellent endeavour from both Moths and The Stone Eye, you’d be well rewarded in tracking this down.

And while we’re on the subject of moths: Glenn Danzig – remember him?  Singer/visionary with the Misfits, Samhain, and of course, Danzig.  Body builder, martial arts master and expert on the occult.  Scared to death of moths, I shit you not.  Always running around with his hands over his face, hiding under tables if there was one around.  Eventually, I learned to calm Glenn down by telling him that moths were simply goth butterflies.  Amazingly, it worked.

Check out Moths on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Check out The Stone Eye on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub in association with Ever Metal.

Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines Album Review

Here’s my recent review of the new Gama Bomb album, which appeared on the Ever Metal website.  Reproduced here with permission; enjoy! 

Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines

AFM Records

Release date: 12/10/2018

Running time: 35.07

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Hello and welcome to Thrash School.  For today’s lesson, you will need:

  • Skin tight jeans (preferably with ripped knees)
  • Faded Acid Reign t-shirt
  • Studded leather belt and 1x studded leather wrist band
  • White hi-top leather Converse
  • Black leather jacket (denim vest over jacket optional)
  • Baseball cap with “NOT” written under the peak

Because today we will be listening to the new album by Gama Bomb, entitled “Speed Between the Lines”.

These merry metallers have an uncanny ability to rewind the cassette of time to a simpler age.  It’s like grunge never happened.  Instead, we get twelve face-lacerating tunes that rush by in uncompromising fashion.  This is thrash metal, kids, buckle up for the ride.

Eighties thrash was often pre-occupied with party bum-out vibes like nuclear destruction.  Apparently, it’s a post-Cold War world though, so these boys don’t wallow in misery for too long.  Not that they don’t have a social conscience: witness the admirable stab at the current political climate in “Alt Reich”.

But they’re just as happy dedicating an ode to Kurt Russell, which is perfectly justified in my opinion.  Kurt is, of course, an icon of twentieth century popular culture.  Not convinced? Go watch The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China and you can thank me later.

Back to the music.  Although diversity isn’t Gama Bomb’s strong point – Master of Puppets this ain’t – the listener is rewarded with a dozen tracks that speed by relentlessly.  The musicianship is amazing, with blitzkrieg lead guitar all over the place.

The occasional change of pace would add some additional colour, but you can’t fault the commitment and enthusiasm of this band.  This album is the full package with cool themes and some of the best song titles I’ve heard in a long time (666teen? Give them an award NOW).  The music is intense and exciting in equal measure, bringing to mind classic Overkill, Anthrax and Nuclear Assault.

So dig out your old Variflex skateboard and ask your big brother’s mate to buy you a two litre bottle of cider from the Co-op.  With Gama Bomb you can party like it’s 1987.  This history lesson is over.

Visit the Ever Metal website here.

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing – Gig Review

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing + IDestroy

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Live Rooms, Chester

Please do accept my humble apologies for the delay, good sirs and ladies – one has had a considerable amount of business to attend to before this esteemed review of the above musical personages could be completed.  I’ve been drinking gin, mostly.

Way back in March, I was indeed fortunate enough to witness a spectacle unlike any other in this historic town of Chester.  The Live Rooms: performance theatre hall, proprietor unknown, was the establishment in question; wherein I did encounter a motley band of anarchists known as The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing.

And what an encounter I did experience, dear reader.  Not since that time the circus arrived through town parading an ungodly assortment of freaks and oddities (a Mr Merrick included, no less) have I seen such debauchery.

First of all, the audience and I were entertained by three young ladies, though unlike any other maidens one could classify as such; the wonderful IDestroy.  They were excellent purveyors of the art form known as “punk rock”, wielding mighty instruments that wrought tuneage both aggressive yet delightful.  

I am sure that these estimable young ladies will not begrudge an old fool such as myself in proclaiming that they could not, or indeed should not, be considered “wall flowers”.  IDestroy possessed astonishing songs that proved highly enjoyable; energetic and confidently performed.

A most invigorating start to the evening’s proceedings; one can only ponder: “Why is there not more of this sort of thing readily available”?  Good show, indeed.

And so, our humble headline act claimed the theatre stage, and began a relentless musical bombardment that would be heard across the distant lands of the Empire’s colonies.  The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing were indeed a sight and sound to behold.

Modern listeners may be forgiven for assuming they have witnessed a grown up edition of successful children’s entertainment Horrible Histories, yet with added ferocious guitars.  Though the message within the music is not hidden, the glorious racket TMTWNBBFN portray is fine entertainment, even for those straight into the workhouse with no pretension of education.

The band had mischievousness in abundance; so whilst regaling the gathered revellers with mirth were able to determine their stage presence in a manner unlike any other I have before encountered. 

This, dear reader, is what I believe has been classified as “steampunk” – and what a jolly riot it was.  A cacophony of history, politics and humour accompanied by pulverising rock music – the perfect soundtrack to a evening on the gin in a Whitechapel boozer.

Afterward I departed for my carriage, grinning like a buffoon and clutching a new “record” to play on my phonograph.

With sincere thanks to all concerned, etc. etc.

Find out more about The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing here.

Find out more about IDestroy here.

The Live Rooms website is here.

Thanks to Lynda Rowlands for the brilliant live photos!

Scorpion Child – Gig Review

Scorpion Child + Jared James Nichols + The Bad Flowers

Tuesday 1st November 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

Almost a year to the day since I last saw the mighty Scorpion Child rocking out, and in the same venue too.  This time the crowd numbers are down, but hell – it was a bleak Tuesday evening.  No excuse though – people should have been at the Live Rooms for this gig.

I just managed to catch the end of the first set, by UK band The Bad Flowers.  This three piece were all power and chunky riffs – think Motorhead menace with some ZZ Top rock in there.  Very appetising and well worth keeping an eye on.

Next up was Jared James Nichols, with his two bandmates, bringing us our second three piece of the night.  This American band play a fine blend of bluesy hard rock, delivered with a confident, killer attack.  Mountain were a fair comparison – they rocked out a crunching “Mississippi Queen” just to prove it.  Quality entertainment with a boogie groove!

The last time I saw Scorpion Child, they were here on tour with Crobot (another superb band).  Now with their second album – the extremely brilliant Acid Roulette – firmly under their belt, I was keen to witness these new rock’n’roll superstars-to-be again.

Scorpion Child deliver music that is well schooled in the classics of the past – Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple.  And like those bands they’re able to deliver monster rockers like “Liqour” and “She Sings, I Kill” along with some superbly epic moments that build beautifully (“Survives” and “Acid Roulette”).

There’s also a thinly disguised darkness about the bands sound, not exactly doomy but much more in the vein of 80’s bands like the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy.  At their most bombastic, Scorpion Child are reminiscent of The Cult (from whence they claimed their name).  Apologies for endless musical comparisons – but this band really have some classic style that merits a bigger fan base.  Throw in some Danzig and Soundgarden and you’ve got a list of some of my favourite bands.

A great deal of the set is from the new album, showing justified confidence on the bands part.  Songs like “My Woman in Black” and “I Might Be Your Man” are thundering hard rock compositions that are classics in the making.

A great gig, shame about the low attendance (and the lack of merch!) – but brilliantly infectious modern hard rock.  I’m off for fish’n’chips.

The Scorpion Child website is here.

You can find Scorpion Child, Jared James Nichols and the Bad Flowers on Facebook.

The Live Rooms website is here.

 scorpion-child

Sci Fi Weekender 2016 – part 2

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Phoenix

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Day 2 at SFW, and again it’s all a blur.  I recall it was a lazy start to the day for me, breakfast and chilling in the caravan.  Kurt was feeling better, but Greeny was starting to suffer with the illness.  It would be mostly be another day of watching Star Trek, Big Bang Theory and Top Gear for those two.

Adam had got up early and made it to see a showing of a new independent film called Pandorica.  Classed as an action-horror, reports about the film were very enthusiastic.  The Q&A with Director and cast was my first event of the day – it was interesting although I’d not seen the film!  Definitely one to keep and eye out for: word of mouth was very positive.

The highlight of the afternoon was, undoubtedly, an appearance by the incomparable Brian Blessed.  Larger than life and twice as loud, Blessed’s sci-fi credentials are suitably top notch.  A life long fan of science fiction, as well in starring in numerous genre pieces – you may have heard of Flash Gordon – his enthusiasm was both apparent and infectious.

Professor Elemental hosted the Q&A with Brian Blessed, who wisely let the great man get on and tell his tales!  A solid job from the Professor – a daunting task well executed.

Blessed’s talk ranged from his acting work to his many explorations and mountaineering adventures.  His recollections of the Flash Gordon movie, and it’s well deserved appreciation by audiences the world over, were affectionately told.  An unmissable audience with a real living legend.

In the afternoon I took some photos and looked around the stalls again.  Unfortunately, this years SFW again clashed with MCM Memorabilia in Birmingham, so genre based merchandise was thin on the ground.  I picked up some cool Elvira cocktail glasses though!

A good feature this year was the retro gaming section, where numerous old consoles could be played for free.  This was very popular, and although I don’t play video games it meant I always knew where to find my crew if we split up.  They were always playing games…

Every year at SFW, the Cosplay final is something to behold.  There’s always a sense of excitement in the air, as the costumed competitors take the stage.  And every year, the audience and competitors are enthusiastic and good natured.  Everyone cheers for each other, and there’s a real sense of community.  It’s nice to witness all the attendees rooting for each other; even though there will always be favourites, there is no bitterness.

The costumes were exceptional, as you can see (hopefully) from the photos here.  Not everyone entered the competition, but there were so many great costumes whether they were entering or just dressing up for fun.  Massive respect to everyone.

I find it great fun spotting and naming the characters.  The variety and imagination on show is consistently astounding, not to mention the talent that goes into making the costumes.  So again, thanks to all the Cosplayers for letting me take your photos.  Too many of my pics didn’t work out.  I also missed far too may opportunities.  But I hope that the photos here capture some of the creativity I witnessed.

And I sincerely apologise for not dressing up!  I lost count of the number of people who chastised me (with good humour, of course) for not dressing as Tony Stark…

Anyway, there can only be one winner of the Cosplay final, and that was the Robot Overlord fellow.  I can’t remember the character’s name, but I swear it was truly incredible!

Later on in the evening, I zoomed over to the Prog Rock area to catch some music.  I was very happy to catch the Focus set; the song “Hocus Pocus” was an obvious highlight.  I only saw a couple of songs by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) – though they were impressive – before heading back to the spaceport.

For the rest of the evening, my compadre, Ste and myself had a few beers and hung around with various SFW attendees.  We saw some old pals and met a few new ones.  I took more photos – including the now traditional “no photos” social media-proof shades pics.  And we managed to stay up partying till after 2 in the morning!

Not such a good thing going home Sunday…

Still, another great time at Sci Fi Weekender.  And yes, Greeny and Kurt got better, thanks for asking.

If you were there, it was good to see you.  Hopefully we’ll see you next year.

And big thanks to Adam, who organised the whole thing for us!

The Sci Fi Weekender site is here.

The HRH Prog site is here.

PS: There are photos left unpublished, so there will be Bonus Scenes in a few weeks.  Be warned!

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Cosplay winner!

Tragedy – Gig Review

Tragedy

Wednesday 9th March 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

It’s my first gig of the year, and another visit to the ever reliable Live Rooms in Chester for some rock’n’roll.  I’ve had a few rockin’ parties at this venue, but this night was destined for greatness.  The exquisite Disco Metal of the one and only Tragedy was scheduled to set the sky on fire with dazzling party anthems.

Finding common ground between the opposing world of heavy metal and disco was never going to be an easy task.  They’re two genres of music that repel like the same sides of a magnet.  But with Tragedy, the water and oil can, and do, mix.  It’s a hard rockin’ combination of guitar and high pitched disco vocals in a totally crazy metal tribute to the Bee Gees (and beyond).

A heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees is only the beginning, you see.  As well as Brothers Gibb classics like “Staying Alive” and “Night Fever”, their set is expanded to take in other disco and pop classics.  The mutated songs feature glimpses of riffs from Van Halen, Pantera and more.  One of my highlights was the ridiculously fun idea of warping the intro from Slayer’s “Raining Blood” into “It’s Raining Men”!

Part of the fun of this Tragedy gig was spotting chunks of recognisable metal riffs, and then being dumbfounded by how the band weave them into a late 70’s disco style.  The mash up is suitably gory too – these gruesome Frankensteins have no qualms when it comes to hacking limbs from one sweet pop track and stitching them maniacally to a heavy metal corpse.

With a light show and numerous skits introducing the songs (not to mention Lance the towel boy bumbling across the stage) it’s all very entertaining.  And professional, without being soulless.

For any metal fan with a sense of humour, Tragedy are well worth seeing.  You’ll have a hard time finding a more bonkers night out anywhere.  Great fun!

The Tragedy website is here.

The Live Rooms website is hereTragedy

Crobot/Scorpion Child/Buffalo Summer – Gig Review

Crobot + Scorpion Child + Buffalo Summer 

Wednesday 11th November 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

Wednesday night, but that doesn’t stop me.  When there is a need to rock, I rock.  I ain’t no weekend greaser.

The crowd in the Live Rooms was a healthy size, and quite rightly too.  Three bands for a tenner – and all of them up and coming hard rock superstars.  It’s a night of 21st century music that has one foot in 70’s classic rock, though striding confidently in to the modern realm.

Up first were Buffalo Summer, four lads from South Wales (yay!) who command the stage like seasoned masters.  Their mix of classic Free and Southern Skynyrd boogie is enhanced with some Sonic Temple era Cult swagger.  Powerful and melodic with a rough edge, their songs are anthemic but still have guts.  “Down to the River” was just one highlight in a terrific set, but take my word for it and check ’em out for yourself.

Next up were Scorpion Child, all the way from Texas.  Their version of classic rock was part Zep deep fried in Purple, and all tasty goodness.  These guys go for epic and do not compromise.  The songs build with purpose and create huge sonic vistas that hint at their geographic origin.  “Liqour”, “Kings Highway” and “Antioch” are all songs that capture Scorpion Child’s ability to meld molten riffs with a truly grand vision.  Fantastic.

Our final band of the night were Crobot, who erupt on the stage with electrified enthusiasm.  Their first album, “Something Supernatural”, is awesome – but the songs have even more groove live; Crobot are hugely powerful, with riffs that are simply titanic.  There are tons of highlights, “Skull of Geronimo”, “The Necromancer” and “Chupacabra” being just a few.  If you dig Clutch or Wolfmother, welcome to your new favourite band.  You need Crobot in your life sooner rather than later!

Reporting from the front lines, I’m happy to say that rock – classic, heavy, groovy rock – is alive and well.  Do not hide, do not run for cover – get out there and catch Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer now!

The Live Rooms website is here.

You can follow Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer on Twitter.  Get on it, you need to be ready.

crobot-scorpion-child-uk-tour

Corrosion of Conformity Gig Review

Corrosion of Conformity

Saturday 7th March 2015

Manchester Academy 2

I’ve been a Corrosion of Conformity fan for a long time.  Starting with a cassette copy of their hardcore punk/thrash crossover Eye For An Eye back in my early skateboarding days; through their major label success as a stoner metal band; and on.  Never seen them live, though.  Ridiculous, no?

All that was about to change: I decided to get my act together and go see the band in Manchester for their latest tour.  The fact that vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan was back fronting the band, completing their Deliverance era line-up, was a nice little sweetener too.

The afternoon got off to a great start when, mere seconds from arriving in the car park next to the Academy, I spotted bass player Mike Dean walking along the road.  I greeted him and wished the band well in a brief, pleasant conversation.  I think I managed to remain cool and not look like a total weirdo.

A few beers were had in the early evening, before we made our way to the venue.  Unfortunately we were in Manchester Academy 2, not the nice big main Academy building.  The Academy 2 is the size of a sports hall and was too small for this band.  People were crammed in tighter than a glam rockers spandex pants; it was not cool.

I only caught the end of the support bands slot, so I will pass judgement on Hang the Bastard at this time. COC

When Corrosion of Conformity hit the stage, there’s a genuine sense of excitement in the (tiny) room.  They open with instrumental “These Shrouded Temples” from the Blind album, before charging into “Senor Limpio” and “King of the Rotten”.  There’s hardly a breather between songs, and minimal banter – it seems COC are on a mission to destroy.  Pepper leads the band confidently, like he’s never been away; whilst Woody throws down a barrage of guitar.

In keeping with the tour theme, there’s a healthy chunk of tracks from the devastating Deliverance album.  This is fine with me.  My sad fanboy credentials mean I love all their output, but Deliverance is the cream of the crop as far as I’m concerned.  A genuine metal/punk/stoner/doom/whatever classic, rated in the same bracket as Volume 4 and Master of Puppets.  “Albatross” and “My Grain” are highlights amongst a head crushing set, though the slower pace of “Seven Days” is my favourite from that era of the evening – forgot how great that song is.

There’s a pinch of tracks from across several albums, with “Long Whip/Big America” shining from Wiseblood.  “Thirteen Angels” (America’s Volume Dealer) and “Paranoid Opioid” (In the Arms of God) also stand out in a set filled with gems.  The band are well rehearsed – Reed’s drums and Mike’s bass sound tight and locked in.

COC return for their encore with “Broken Man”, before launching into the inevitable “Vote With a Bullet”.  This song is still an absolute monster, and is welcomed heartily by the audience.  “Clean My Wounds”, another Deliverance era stormer, finishes the night off with it’s awesome riff.

Despite being crowded in the tiny Manchester Academy 2, it’s a great night.  Corrosion of Conformity perform a powerful set, which I only wish could have been longer.  I got to tick a band off my “must see” list tonight, and I retire with obligatory tour t-shirt a very happy punter.

Winter Rocks – Canada

Way back when I started this blog, the very first post in the Music section was about Scandinavian bands/artists.  I was inspired by the cold weather in early 2013 to listen to music from Scandinavia as a theme for the winter months.

Two years on and I needed another theme for this winter’s music homework.  So despite no (or very little) snow, I went with another northern country and chose Canada.

Now I’m sure that the summer weather in Canada is very nice, but without falling prey to stereotypes, the theme fits.  Plus there are loads of artists from that country to fill my playlist.

Here they are:

  • Alanis Morissette
  • Annihilator
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • Black Mountain
  • Bryan Adams
  • Cancer Bats
  • Cauldron
  • Death From Above 1979
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • The Guess Who
  • Neil Young
  • Nickleback
  • Rush
  • Shania Twain
  • SNFU
  • Steppenwolf
  • Voivod

There you go: a fairly eclectic mix of everything from country to thrash metal.

My thanks to Matt Barnes, who introduced me to quite a few artists on this list (but not Shania or Alanis…).

Did I forget anyone?  Leave further Canadian music suggestions in a comment below.

Stipe – R.E.M. Tribute Gig Review

Stipe

Saturday 24th January 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

The great thing about tribute bands is the ability to witness music by defunct groups that you wouldn’t otherwise get to hear. Unfortunately REM have ceased to exist, so an evening with Stipe goes some way to filling a void. As the premier REM tribute band, they offer up authentic, exciting versions of songs that, nowadays, you can only hear on your music player of choice.

I’ve seen Stipe a few times before, always at Alexander’s in Chester, which is a much smaller and intimate venue. So it was going to be interesting to see how they fared in a larger venue like the Live Rooms. There was no need to worry: Stipe performed brilliantly, bringing their versions of classic alt rock tunes to an eager audience.

The set was split into two sections, enabling the band to delve into the REM back catalogue and dig out gems from across their career. It says a lot that Stipe are able to entertain both the more casual fan and the die-hard aficionado like my mate; he sang along with every single line, no matter how obscure. Stipe1

Where this band succeeds is in the accuracy of the sound. Though the lead singer certainly looks the part, his voice is a fairly uncanny likeness of Michael Stipe’s. He may have the moves down to an impressive level, but the voice is what really works, especially on “Orange Crush” (with megaphone prop!) and “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Stipe2

The other musicians also manage to create a brilliant rendition of the songs, fully convincing and delivered with confidence and enthusiasm. When they bring out a mandolin for “Losing My Religion”, it’s like welcoming an old friend who isn’t even on Facebook.

Any minus points?   Well “Shiny Happy People” has never been a favourite of mine, and it gets a rare turn in the spotlight tonight.   To be fair though, it’s a faithful version and I enjoyed it!  It would also be nice to see a live keyboard player added to the line up again, so we’ll get to hear classics like “Nightswimming”.

All in all, it’s another success for the Live Rooms. No disrespect to other venues, but it’s nice to see Stipe doing so well in this larger environment. Stipe did not fail to deliver: they can be relied on to accurately recreate the sound of REM and entertain an audience. Close your eyes, and it could almost be the real thing. And that’s how a tribute band should be, right?

Let’s hope they’re back soon.

Stipe’s Facebook page is here.

Stipe’s website is here.

The Live Rooms website is here.