Pentre Fest 2020

Pentre Fest 2020

McLean’s Pub, Pentre Deeside

21st & 22nd February 2020

I’m sure everyone who was there will agree that this year’s Pentre Fest was the best yet.  The bands were fantastic; the were more people; the vibe was magnificent.

Held at McLean’s in Pentre, Deeside, North Wales, this festival features underground, unsigned rock and metal from near and far.

I attended the full two days this year, and saw most of the acts performing.  I only wrote up a few though, so if you want to read the full review, visit the Ever Metal website here.

There were many highlights.  Witchtripper had been on my “must see” list for a while – they didn’t disappoint.  Old favourites Impavidus and Lullaby for a Unicorn were superb as always.  Cry for Mercy, Stormrider and Womenowar were some of the newly viewed bands that I was very impressed by.

The whole weekend was unmissable and I was genuinely sad when it was all over.  A brilliant, positive experience – well done to Fozzy, Beany, Frank and all the McLean’s staff.

You have to be there next year!

Ryuko

Ryuko presented a couple of surprises on Friday night’s acoustic stage.  First off, they were fully plugged in and electric.  Second, they play more of an alternative rock sound, which was something of a contrast to the majority of other Pentre Fest bands.  Readers may not be aware, though, that I am in fact King of Grunge, with my 90’s credentials well proven.  Ryuko’s set included some melody and even jangly pop along with heavier riffs, which was an enjoyable diversion in a Dinosaur Jr/Nirvana style.  Well performed, Ryuko just need to test their audience further and throw in additional surprises in either a “Negative Creep” or “About a Girl” vein.

Rhiannon and Rachel

Sadly Pentre Fest suffered a few casualties this year.  One such example was on the acoustic stage, where half of duo Rhiannon and Rachel was hospitalised and (obviously) unable to perform.  But the show must go on: and Rhiannon performed a short but enjoyable set on the acoustic stage.  Admittedly out of her comfort zone, playing guitar as well as singing, she soldiered on and won plaudits for her effort.  Only a few minor mistakes were noticed – and easily forgiven.  A beautiful singing voice that even managed to add a ghostly, ethereal sheen to a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” – making it sound good for the first time ever.

Mike West

If the connection between metal and outlaw country isn’t obvious to any readers, I can only pity you.  I’ve never witnessed Mike West before, but his amalgamation of southern rock, dusty country and swampy blues was a delight to my old whiskey-soaked soul.  Mike delivers his songs with a hard rockin’ swagger, as if he’s just busted out of Tombstone jail and is riding across the plains, lamenting women and fortunes lost.  A great voice and an outstanding presence, Mike is one to catch when you can.  Has anyone done a “Wild West” gag yet?  If not, there’s a headline for us there!

OMV

On the main stage, OMV entered dressed like a bunch of West Coast gangsters in masks and bandanas.  Introduced as “hardcore street metal”, these guys definitely showed some great musical skills and energy.  Somewhere between Bodycount, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard is where I’d stack them.  Either way, OMV delivered some brutal songs and bounced around with massive crossover riffs.  OMV were very entertaining, although hugely confrontational onstage – I wasn’t sure if they actually were going to pistol whip the audience into submission.  The music has enough intensity and power to speak for itself.

Luke Appleton

A really fantastic set was delivered by Mr Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage.  In truth, this was a duo performance with Rishi Mehta (of Babylon Fire) playing too, and it was a genuine highlight of Pentre Fest 2020.  Dubbed “acoustic metal”, the songs were both suitably laidback, yet delivered with a metal edge.  Expertly performed, we had tunes from Luke’s solo “Snake Eyes” project, plus of course some Iced Earth and Absolva numbers.  Not to mention a bit of Dio and Tenacious D for good measure!  A real class act in every sense of the word, and both very talented and down-to-earth gentlemen.

Son of Boar

They have a cool name, and they looked pretty cool on stage in matching denim battle-vests.  And from the very first notes of the bass rumbling on the very first song, I had a feeling that Son of Boar would be something special.  I wasn’t wrong.  These Bradford bruisers have everything in spades: they’re unfeasibly heavy; they have slow, doomy riffs with a Sabbath-like infectiousness; they have a sludgy, swampy groove that can pack an aggressive punk punch.  The best band of Pentre Fest 2020 as far as I was concerned, Son of Boar were superb.  I even bought a t-shirt.

Pentre Fest on Facebook.

N.E.W Metal Productions on Facebook.

Goodfor Audio Entertainment on Facebook

Mcleans Pub Live on Facebook.

Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 27/09/2019

Running time: 49 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

You’ve got to hand it to the Swedes.  They’re pretty damn good at whatever they turn their hands to.  Cheese with holes in, chocolate, clocks… No wait, that’s the Swiss.  The Swedes are the ones who are awesome at flatpack furniture and – most importantly for us – music.

Firebreather are a trio of doom-mongers from Gothenburg in Sweden.  Comprising Mattias Noojd on vocals and guitar, Kyle Pitcher on bass and drummer Axel Wittbeck, these riff-lords are adept at creating massive, epic songs that are both brutal and beautiful.

The music pounds and pummels, but as in opening track “Dancing Flames”, the churning riff becomes hypnotically entrancing.  “Our Souls They Burn” is unleashed with a super-heavy grind that’s underpinned by a powerful groove.

It’s hard to pick a stand-out or favourite track, though the relentless structure of the songs creates a vast tapestry of music that blends together.  This is savage and also seductive, like the wilderness of their native Scandinavia.  Hence, we get the thunderous beat of title track “Firebreather” and the contrast of the slow rhythmic build and almost melancholic vibe of “The Siren”.

Repeated listens are definitely recommended: familiarity with “Under a Blood Moon” coaxes the songs to open up and reveal more treasures each time.  The listeners’ mind can imagine patterns and shapes cascading, like watching flames burn and dance.  It’s a solid album from Firebreather that only promises to grow and endure.

All this talk about fire-breathing brings back memories of my old mate Ronnie James Dio’s fascination with the Dungeons and Dragons board game.  Back in the early 80’s, when he was fronting Black Sabbath, Ronnie was obsessed with it.  He’d constantly badger the band to play it with him, which they did – begrudgingly.

Tony and Geezer amiably played along to humour their titan-voiced tiny singer.  I recall one time though, when Bill Ward had really had enough of elves and dragons – he threw a huge pitcher of ale over the game.  Ronnie was livid, Tony and Geezer were trying to stifle laughter.  Especially when Bill kicked the table, banged his big toe and fell about screaming in agony, ripping a hole in his wife’s tights.  Bill was always wearing his wife’s tights.  I think they kept him warm.

You can find Firebreather on Facebook and Twitter: @FIREBREATHERGBG.

Check them out on Bandcamp here.

This review originally appeared on the Ever Metal site, which you can visit here.

Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 20/04/2019

Running time: 29 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7/10

 

Back in ’68, I believe it was, though a lot of my memory remains hazy.  It was a small London jazz club, in Chelsea I think, and Hendrix spontaneously got up to jam.  Moon was on drums, John Paul Jones picked up the bass, and Clapton and Pagey jumped up to run through a few blues numbers.  I was in the audience, somewhat refreshed, with a quality geezer who worked as a roadie for Hendrix.  His name was Ian, though everyone called him “Lemmy”.

Anyway, I might have overindulged in something or other, but it was a fantastic night.  I mean, musicians of that calibre sharing the same stage!  Incredible.  Until, that was, Jagger decided he wanted to join in on vocals.  Brian Jones decided to bring his bandmate down a peg or two, and lobbed a huge quiche at old rubber lips.  Bosh, hit him straight in the mush.  Jagger was not happy.  The next thing you know, Moon chucks his sticks at Mickey Dolenz and all hell breaks loose.

There was cake and vol-au-vents everywhere.  It took me days to clean the sausage rolls out of Pagey’s pick-ups.  But that was the sixties, you know?  All good fun.

Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip does a great job of bringing back the vibes from that time.  Compiled by Riding Easy Records, it consists of ten rare shots of proto-metal and stoner rock from the late 60s and early seventies.  These tracks are so long lost, whoever raided the tombs they were in probably received an ancient curse for disturbing them.

The songs on offer aren’t really of the sheer riff heavy variety that Black Sabbath would perfect, but if you’re interested in hearing how rock’n’roll was deep fried in LSD and pushed to the limit, there are some fine nuggets here.

The first track, “School Daze” by Attack!, has a real MC5 hell-for-leather rock’n’roll feel.  That greasy, take-no-prisoners Detroit approach serves them well.  Up next is White Rock with “Please Don’t Run Away”, a glorious fuzzed out, scuzzy rocker.  The brilliantly named Luke and the Apostles give us “Not Far Off”, featuring fabulous throaty vocals over a dynamite slab of blues rock.

There’s plenty more psychedelic, acid drenched fare that will resonate with fans of Hendrix, Cream, Mountain and even early Alice Cooper.  “I Need My Music” by the Tourists is another highlight, along with Moloch’s “Cocaine Katy”.  There’s a reassuring low-fi sound to the whole thing, with occasional faint vinyl crackles even, that gives the enterprise some charm.

Of the two covers on offer here, Inside Experience’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses” is fine but doesn’t challenge the original.  On the other hand, the wonderfully named Grump take the King’s “Heartbreak Hotel” out on a glorious, whiskey fuelled Leo Sayer and don’t hand it back till it’s puked it’s kebab up in the back of the taxi.

The tracks compiled for Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip may not change your life, but there’s plenty to enjoy.  If you’re not already a fan of rock music from this period, then think of this as a history lesson and indulge yourself.  Just be careful what you indulge yourself in, eh?

Right then, gin and tonic, anyone?

Track List

  1. Attack! – “School Daze”
  2. White Rock – “Please Don’t Run Away”
  3. River Side – “Wayfarer”
  4. Luke and the Apostles – “Not Far Off”
  5. Tourists – “I Need My Music”
  6. Bartos Brothers Band – “Gambler”
  7. Inside Experience – “Tales of Brave Ulysses”
  8. Karma – “New Mexico”
  9. Moloch – “Cocaine Katy”
  10. Grump – “Heartbreak Hotel”

 

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Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit Album Review

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit

Self released, Dewar PR

Release Date: 17/08/2018

Running Time: 51 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

“Have a listen to Spacetrucker!  I think you’ll like them,” came the recommendation from Rick at Ever Metal HQ.  So I did.  And he was right – the “Smooth Orbit” album is one of the most exciting listens I’ve had for a long, long time.

These psychedelic space monkeys have created a superb stoner rock classic that’s right up my space lane.   Throw in some fuzzy grunge and classic rock and Spacetrucker have achieved the almost impossible: put a huge, acid-warped grin on my ancient, grumbly mug.

First track “Sample of a Sample” warms the jets up nicely for take-off with a trippy lead and some bongos.  Yes, bongos!  Past the two-minute mark it erupts into a face-melter of a riff that had my cranium nodding like an Easter Island statue after some herbal refreshment.

Mike Owen (guitar/vocals), Rob Wagoner (bass/vocals) and Del Toro (drums) seem to be able to magically conjure up the grooves with uncanny ease.  “Meat Wagon” is another brilliant track with a pulsating, infectious riff.

In true lazy journo style (hey, I’ve had a few), Spacetrucker combine the stoner slouch of Fu Manchu and early QOTSA with classic Sabbath and Purple, mixing in some Mudhoney and Melvins fuzzy sludge on the way.  Perfect, in other words.  If any of those bands get your hyper drive firing, this is for you.

There are some Iommi-esque shorter numbers and experimental sounds that add a further dimension to the proceedings, constantly keeping the listener on their toes.  “Vanishing Point, Science of Us” has an almost Nirvana Unplugged vibe before bursting into a crushing rocker.  This is followed by another monster riff with “Pulling Teeth”.

Plus the final track, “Lost in the Sauce”, is over ten minutes long!  An extended jam floats in and builds beautifully, never rushing but enticing the listener along on every step.

This might not be the most critical review I’ve composed, but I don’t care.  “Smooth Orbit” is a triumph of an album and I love it.  The only reason it didn’t get ten out of ten is it needs more references to skateboards and 1970s muscle cars.  Other than that, I need a vinyl version, please.

If any of the above references to sub-genre labels and other bands resonates with you, I urge you do a Boba Fett and track this album down now.

All of this “space trucking” talk reminds me my days working with Deep Purple back in the early seventies.  I was working as the band’s roadie/driver when one time, in the middle of the night in the Arizona desert, we got a flat.  I left the Purps partying in the back whilst I went out in to the freezing, dusty highway to change the tire.  I was distracted for a moment, and I swear bling that I saw several lights zipping about in the sky at unbelievable speeds.  “UFOs!” I thought.

I rushed back onto the bus and dragged the band out to take look (all except Roger Glover, who was busy knitting).  Except when we got outside, the lights had vanished.  The Purps weren’t amused and blamed it on me overindulging in peyote.  Gillan was very gentlemanly about it all and even gave me a hand with the tyre.  Blackmore had a tantrum about the delay and docked me a day’s pay.  The bastard.

 

This review appeared on the Ever Metal website and is reproduced here for your enjoyment.  Click here to visit the Ever Metal website.

Satan’s Satyrs – The Lucky Ones Album Review

Satan’s Satyrs – The Lucky Ones 

Riding Easy Records, Bad Omen, US/THEM

Release date: 19/10/2018

Running Time: 35 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7/10

Satan, eh?  Old Beelzebub has had a long-established association with rock’n’roll.  Most notably there was dear old Black Sabbath, or as I knew them in the late 60s, a bunch of hippies called Earth.  I remember well the day I lent Tony and Geezer (let’s face it, the brains of the bunch) some cash to go to the cinema for a break in rehearsal.  Lo and behold, the pair were inspired by queues for a horror film to rename the band in a scary manner.  They called themselves Black Sabbath, and an unholy cacophony known as Heavy Metal was born.

These Satan’s Satyrs lads may well be in league with the devil himself, I don’t know.  They do peddle a very enjoyable mash up of garage punk and 70’s proto metal, however.  Like Motorhead covering T-Rex songs, whilst a bunch of rowdy werewolf bikers have a drug party.

Opener “Thrill of the City” rages out of the pit and sets the tone nicely.  Most of the album follows suit and it’s as greasy as a week-old chip pan.  Muscular yet melodic dual guitars from Jarrett Nettnin and Nate Towle, with Clayton Burgess providing vocals and deep-fried bass and solid drums by Stephen Fairfield.

“She Beast” offers up a beautiful, big fat riff that really greased my gears.  That glam rock sheen shines through nicely on “Trampled by Angels” and there’s a change of pace somewhat with “Take it and Run”, which has a pleasant jangle.

In honesty it took a couple of listens to begin to appreciate “The Lucky Ones” – deceptively simple at first, yet revealing more gleaming gems when the grime was rubbed off a little.  A great, satisfying record and I’ll be investigating more of Satan’s Satyrs in future.

Oh, and Ozzy, if you’re reading this: if I could have back that tenner I lent you in 1969, I could really do with it.  Cheers.

 

The above review was originally published by Ever Metal – go check ’em out for more rock and metal reviews!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #5

It’s been a while, but time to work through that stack of 7″ singles again.  I had a few beers and listened to the tunes in my collection – good and bad – in order, both sides.

There have been a few stinkers in previous editions.  This week, however, the good outweighed the cheesy for once.  Just about.

Here we go:

  1. Jimmy Barnes & INXS – “Good Times” / “Love is Enough”
  2. Tubeway Army – “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” / “We Are So Fragile?”
  3. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid” / “Snow Blind”
  4. Rod Stewart – “Sailing” / “Stone Cold Sober”
  5. The KLF – “Justified and Ancient: Stand by the Jams” / “Justified and Ancient: The White Room Version”
  6. Bobby Gentry – “Ode to Billy Joe” / “Mississippi Delta”
  7. Sweet – “Fox on the Run” / Miss Demeanor”
  8. Generation X – “Ready Steady Go” / “No No No”
  9. Atomic Rooster – “Devil’s Answer” / “Tomorrow Night”
  10. Blondie – “Call Me” / “Call Me (Instrumental)”
  11. The Incredible Bongo Band – “Bongo Rock” / “Bongolia”
  12. All About Eve – “What Kind of Fool” / “Gold and Silver”
  13. Level 42 – “Something About You” / “Coup D’Etat (Version)”
  14. Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Me and My Shadow” / “At a Perfume Counter” / “Frenesi” / “Mamselle”
  15. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass – “Casino Royale” / “The Wall Street Rag”
  16. ABBA – “Does Your Mother Know” / “Kisses of Fire”
  17. Hank Williams – “Honky Tonkin'”/ “Howlin’ at the Moon” / “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But Time” / “You’d Better Keep it on Your Mind”
  18. The Rolling Stones – “19th Nervous Breakdown” / “As Tears Go By”

1968 – Ballads of the Godless album review

My review of the new 1968 album, “Ballads of the Godless”, has just appeared on EVER METAL.  Here’s the review again, just because:

 

1968 – Ballads of the Godless 

Release date: 06/07/2018

Running Time: 38:24

8/10

Sometimes, without warning, it all comes flooding back and I’m thrust into the nightmare of that jungle.  Thirty days on patrol with no chopper cover.  The heat, unbearable; sweat running in rivers down my spine.  Cradling my M16 like a good luck charm, praying under my breath that there ain’t no VC gonna unload a torrent of lead at me and my buddies.  Trudging on, hour after hour, waiting to get back to the LZ for evac.  Chukka-chukka-chukka, the Hueys overhead and the rush of wind from the blades.

Maybe these guys from 1968 were in Nam too.  Maybe this debut album, “Ballads of the Godless” is actually a lost relic from those days that’s just been unearthed.  Maybe 1968 invented heavy, psychedelic rock after hearing Hendrix and Cream and some of those old blues guys.  Certainly seems crazy enough to be true.

Opening with “Devilswine”, 1968 lay out their ground plan confidently.  It’s a mighty power groove that makes your head nod, setting the tone for the whole album.  “Screaming Sun” follows and adds a more psychedelic shine, Jimi Coppack’s vocals soaring while the riffs hammer.  “Temple of the Acid Wolf” adds further intricate detail, with shades of vintage Soundgarden.  1968 set about laying waste to all in it’s sights like Ozzy manning the Air Cav machine gun on a strafing run.

It’s not all Ride of the Valkyries mayhem however.  Last track on Side 1 (vinyl lovers!), “S.J.D.” is an instrumental that provides a more reflective tone.  Acoustic guitar and piano feature, in a stylistically fine salute to the classics of the genre.

This bleeds nicely into Side 2, track 1 – “Chemtrail Blues”, where guitarist Sam Orr gets chance to unleash Hendrixian guitar flourishes over a bluesy beat.  It’s like that time me and my buddy chewed acid in a fox hole while under fire.  The rocket traces in the sky lit up like God’s neon veins.

“McQueen” opens with some infectious bass, before melting out of a mellow vibe and into a crushing chorus.  The bottom end is nice and heavy throughout, The Bear delivering pummelling yet warm playing.

Rhythms are also tight and show a groove more contagious than jungle malaria.  Dan Amati on drums shines on “The Hunted” in particular.  Final track “Mother of God” brings on a deceptively laid back, acid dripping feel as we finally get some R’n’R in Saigon.

“Ballads of the Godless” reveals more and more depth, thought and intricacy with each listen.  On this first album, the band make good on a lifetime studying from the past masters.  My only question is how will 1968 continue to evolve and add to their sound?  I can’t wait to find out.

For now, it’s back to reality.  No more choppers overhead, cries in the jungle and that oppressive, relentless heat.  Until I spin “Ballads of the Godless” again…

 

You can read more about all things metal at the Ever Metal site.