Trouble – Album Review

Trouble – One for the Road/Unplugged

Hammerheart Records

Release date: 11/02/2022

Running time: 67 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

The mighty Trouble!  A release from these titans of doom metal is always worth celebration, and this is no exception.  Back in the early 90s, this cult band were verged on the edge of a mainstream breakthrough, with two albums on the Rick Rubin helmed Def American Records (also home to Slayer, Danzig, Black Crowes and others).  Alas, it was not to be: this eternal underground favourite was to remain just that. 

“One for the Road” followed the second, self-titled Def American album, as a limited-edition European tour EP.  This re-release bundles that with a full length “unplugged” album: remastered to provide a fully upgraded compilation.

The first five songs comprise that “One for the Road” EP, with first track ‘Goin’ Home’ bursting from the speakers with exactly the kind of exciting hard rock you’d expect as a Trouble opener.  ‘Window Pain’ offers a pulsating, mid paced doom rocker, whilst ‘Requiem’ brings the tempo down further with a melancholy, gloomy metal dirge.  The Black Sabbath influence is most obvious on ‘Another Day’, whilst ‘Doom Box’ raises the tempo a little but still holds a candle to Dio era Sabs.  Some of these songs would turn up in different form on later albums, but this EP brings together an excellent capsule that fits neatly into that mid 90s period.

Back in the early/mid 90’s, “unplugged” albums were all the rage.  Like others of that era, this Trouble entry into that genre isn’t always stripped down totally to just vocals and acoustic guitar: there’s still electric guitar, drums and more to embellish the tracks were necessary.  The strings added to this second version of ‘Requiem’ are exceptionally orchestrated and serve the mood of the piece brilliantly.  That said, ‘7.00 AM’ is a remarkably restrained and beautiful song, recalling Sabbath and also Trouble worshippers Soundgarden. 

Those songs – and the other tracks comprising the “Unplugged” part of this release – offer a relaxed side of the band that explores more of their psychedelic, sixties interests (see their cover of The Yardbirds’ ‘Heartful of Soul’).  It’s a release that even my eleven-year-old daughter appreciated.  The only mis-step is the jaunty jig of ‘Smile’, which is just too jangly and nice.  Yet have no fear, the version of ‘Misery’ showcased here (released as ‘The Misery Shows’ on the eponymous Def American release) reminds us just how great this band were.   

My only major issue is the cover art.  That may seem petty when this is a review of the band’s music, but as a long-term Trouble fan, I’m considering buying the vinyl copy for my collection.  And that vile cover may well deter me from doing so.  Trouble has a great logo, but the cover squanders this with nothing other than the title, in what looks like – GASP! – Comic Sans MS!  A font that should only be used by primary school teaching assistants, it dates and also ridicules the stature of the music.  It’s a truly vile and lazy cover – seemingly thrown together by a Johnny-No-Stars work experience boy on his lunchbreak.  Awful.  Couldn’t someone have redesigned it?

I’m docking points for that, ‘cos the cover mocks all I hold holy.  Beyond that, fantastic music and a must for any Trouble fan.

RIP Eric Wagner

For more info, check out the Trouble website, their Facebook page or Bandcamp page.

Hammerheart Records also have a website, Facebook and Bandcamp.

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

Scrap Metal Vol 1 – Album Review

Various Artists – Scrap Metal Volume 1

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 12/11/221

Running time: 34 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Recently I’ve been razzing around this rundown town in Platinum Al’s Pimp Mobile (a 1980 Chrysler Cordoba, of course), blasting out this new compilation from those hard rockin’ duderinos at RidingEasy records.  And I haven’t had this much honest-to-rockness fun in goddamn ages!

You may recall RidingEasy’s previous comps, as reviewed by yours truly, from their Brown Acid collections of long lost proto-metal/stoner rock artifacts of the late 60s/early 70s.  Well, with Scrap Metal, they’ve taken the same approach (unearthing long-forgotten rare tracks, and releasing a carefully restored sonic document of said tunes) – but this time, applied it to the age of 70s/80s classic Heavy Metal. 

Listeners will discover a variety of styles of HM here, as the genre splits into numerous offshoots.  So, we get to hear the blossoming styles of NWOBHM, thrash, doom and glam at a time when they all still share a generous amount of DNA.  It’s classic metal, folks – and to be honest, I didn’t find that much difference between the “styles” on offer.  What I did find was ten blinding tracks of fun (and slightly dumb) rock’n’roll monsters.

Witness, for example, the wonder of “Headbang” by Rapid Tears.  Fast paced, dumb ass, dingus brained heavy rock for you to race to the chippy in a Trans-Am.  It’s glorious.  Then, with barely a rest, we’re assaulted by Air Raid’s “69 in a 55”: like early Maiden (even down to the Paul Di’Anno vocals) but with a cucumber stuffed down the spandex pants.

And the surprises keep on coming.  Hades are simply brilliant, their track “Girls Will Be Girls” venturing toward speed metal.  Resless have a crap name, but “The Power” is a Priest like power-thon that is bound to excite.  “Enemy Ace” by The Beast is a definite unrefined highlight; almost in the realms of crossover, it’s a particularly aggressive track that’s totally unsuitable for polite tea parties with grandma.

The compilation isn’t perfect: Don Cappa’s “Steel City Metal” ticks all the cliché boxes, but plods.  Yet adrenaline infused, urgent rockers like “Can’t Stop” by Dead Silence, “Iron Curtain” by Czar and “Viking Queen” by Real Steel keep the fists punching the air and a grin on the face.    

As with the Brown Acid series, it’s bewildering how at least some of the bands on Scrap Metal Volume 1 didn’t get any further.  I’ve heard a lot worse.  However, careers are built on consistently great song writing and performance – we only have one (admittedly brilliant) song by each band to testify here.

The lyrics and themes may wallow in the murky depths of the tired and obvious, but I challenge any of you to not enjoy the music on offer.  Park any pretentions of sophistication you may hold, the energy to be heard on these tracks is pure pleasure.  Pull on your super tight jeans, bullet belt and patch covered battle vest, let your hair down (if you still can), and rejoice in a simpler time.  Scrap Metal Vol 1 is a full on, beer swilling triumph of an album.  HEADBANG!!!

Visit the RidingEasy Records website here.

Or check them out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Insta or Bandcamp.

Today’s review is brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

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.

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.

TOOM – EP Review

TOOM – Behold the Basilisk EP

APF Records (For The Lost PR)

Release date: 01/10/2021

Running Time: 22 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

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

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

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

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

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

Check out APF Records on Bandcamp and online.

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

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.

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.