EMQs with… Platinum Al

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

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

Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What first got you into music?

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

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

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

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

Pentre Fest!

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

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

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

Never ever bloody anything ever.

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

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

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

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

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

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

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

Vinyl, obviously!

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

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

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

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

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

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

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

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

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

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

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

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

Read more Ever Metal staff EMQs here.

Bloody Hammers – Album Review

Bloody Hammers – Songs of Unspeakable Terror

Napalm Records

Release date: 15/01/2021

Running time: 32 mins approx

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Outside, the nights are starting to get lighter and Spring is on its merry way.  The birds chirp merrily and warmth is returning to the land.  Which is completely inappropriate for a review of the new album by Bloody Hammers, “Songs of Unspeakable Terror”.  It should be Halloween instead: gloomy and dark with the bizarre and uncanny just outside your door.

Anders Manga (vocals, guitars, bass) and Devallia (keyboards/organ) are the Morticia and Gomez husband and wife team behind Bloody Hammers, a metal/rock/goth creation based in Transylvania County, North Carolina.  How’s that for an address?  Bet Glenn Danzig’s crying into his Count Chocula cereal. 

On this opus, Lily and Herman have left behind their previous established sound of Alice Cooper-style hard rock, crunchy metal and Sisters of Mercy atmos.  Entombed alive due to the pandemic, Bloody Hammers have exhumed the bloody corpse of horror punk, in a temporary tribute to the genre.

And it’s huge fun!  Fast and furious tracks like “Night to Dismember” and “Waking the Dead” rocket from the crypt like the hounds of hell are on their tail.  Huge “whoah-oh” Misfits choruses are of course present and correct.  Rousing and energetic, these songs are obvious but loving celebrations of influences that have only been hinted at on previous albums. 

There’s macabre melody on “We Are the Damned”, with a choir vocal effect to help power the camp horror feel.  “Hands of the Ripper” and “Not of This Earth” are slower, more metal sounding with a grinding riff.

Little of the occasional Andrew Eldritch explorations exist on “Songs of Unspeakable Terror”, though “Lucifers Light” unites guitar and keys into a moody Danzig like ballad.  A little more of this approach would still have fitted perfectly however.  I don’t know if Devallia can sing, but if she can this was a missed opportunity.   

The listener never feels too far removed from the original Bloody Hammers style, however.  Likewise this isn’t a simple, derivative rip-off of “Walk Among Us”, even though “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” is a nice radioactive “Hatebreeders” mutation.  But whereas the Misfits took their inspiration from monochrome B-movies, Bloody Hammers have changed gears to a Kensington gore-drenched 60’s Technicolor horror fest. 

“Songs of Unspeakable Terror” is an album of pure enjoyment, which is just what we need right now.  With song titles taken directly from classic Hammer/Amicus movies, a warm rediscovery of horror punk style and some familiar Bloody Hammers rock, you can’t go wrong.  Go dig out your Halloween fancy dress, find your “Plan 9 From Outer Space” VHS cassette and get ready for a ghouls night in!   

Check out Bloody Hammers on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

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

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.

Cats Playlist

Cats!  I love ’em!

They’re crazy, cute, playful and lovable.  They’re agile and graceful and beautiful.  But most of all, they are loyal little companions who, despite their reputation, are full of affection.

To honour my furry feline friends – past, present and future – I collated another one of my themed playlists.  This collection of songs all have a connection to cats in some way, and create an eclectic compilation that crosses categories.

You can compile a similar list, and I hope you and your cat enjoy!

  1. Mongo Santamaria – “El Pussy Cat”
  2. The Cure – “Love Cats”
  3. Johnny Cash – “Mean Eyed Cat”
  4. Barney Kessel – “Something for Cat”
  5. The Presidents of the United States of America – “Kitty”
  6. The James Taylor Quartet – “Faster Pussycat”
  7. Stray Cats – “Stray Cat Strut”
  8. Hanna-Barbera – “Top Cat (Main Title)”
  9. Howlin’ Wolf – “I Ain’t Superstitious”
  10. Tom Jones – “What’s Ne w Pussycat?”
  11. Marty Paich – “The Cat”

    My cat, Jenna

  12. Ted Nugent – “Cat Scratch Fever”
  13. Primus – “Tommy the Cat”
  14. Jacknife Lee – “Here Kitty Kitty”
  15. Rolling Stones – “Stray Cat Blues”
  16. Pete Moore & His Orchestra – “Cat Walk”
  17. Alice Cooper – “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets”
  18. Beyonce – “Kitty Kat”
  19. Hanna Barbera – “Top Cat (Underscore)”
  20. Devo – “Pink Pussy Cat”
  21. Danzig – “Wicked Pussycat”
  22. Celia Vaz/Friends from Rio – “Francisco Cat”
  23. Roni Size – “Mad Cat”
  24. R.E.M. – “Star Me Kitten”

Bonus points if you know why the Howlin’ Wolf track is included…

Sadly, I forgot to add Nina Simone’s “Feline Good” to the list…

Till next time: ciao, cat lovers!

Gym Playlist #1

Have you been hitting the gym since the start of the year?  Punishing yourself with cardio and weights as you fight to shed those extra pounds that attached themselves limpet-like over the festive season?

I’ve been slaughtering the gym since the start of the year, but then I always do.  Not that it seems to do any good.

Whilst I’m there, pummelling away at the flab in a vain attempt to get in shape, I need some tunes to motivate me.  The music in the gym is usually dancey disco stuff, which is fine if you’re dancing, but when I’m working out I need something a bit more aggressive.

Albums by various bands get a regular spin, but I also made this iPod playlist to help me focus like a Viking ransacking a monastery.  Sometimes I’m so amped I feel like I could run through the wall, rather than just plodding on the treadmill.

You could do worse than to listen to this cacophony yourself.

  1. Rocket From The Crypt – “Pushed”
  2. Audioslave – “Cochise”
  3. Big Chief – “Lion’s Mouth”
  4. Metallica – “Die Die My Darling”
  5. Foo Fighters – “The Pretender”
  6. Rage Against the Machine – “Guerrilla Radio”
  7. Anthrax – “Only”
  8. Corrosion of Conformity – “Heaven’s Not Overflowing”
  9. Pantera – “Fucking Hostile”
  10. The Cult – “Rise”
  11. Probot – “Shake Your Blood”
  12. Suicidal Tendencies – “War Inside My Head”
  13. Beastie Boys – “Sabotage”

There you go: 47 minutes of energetic, in your face music to psyche you up and get you in the mood to destroy. GO!!!

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #9

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 4th November 2016

It was great to be back in Mold for another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  It’s been a long time since the last evening in the Queen’s Head, with summer holidays and whatnot getting in the way – so it was good to see the familiar faces and crank out some tunes.

The usual rules applied: each person got 15 minutes on the decks to play whatever they liked, genre free – vinyl only!

Adam went for it first, here’s an over view of his varied and very enjoyable set:

  • Voice of the Beehive – I Think I Love You
  • Grandmaster Flash – Whitelines
  • Queen – One Vision
  • Willie Nelson – On the Road Again

I am so jealous of that Willie Nelson single!

Halloween had just been and gone a few days earlier, so I was still in a spooky mood.  This time, my set went like this:

Monster Magnet – See You in Hell

One of the many stand out tracks from Monster Magnet’s classic “Powertrip” album, this is acid drenched stoner rock at its finest.  The retro sound is augmented by a churning organ that whirls around as the bass chugs.  Psychedelic wonderment from Monster Magnet that sounds like a forgotten late 60’s gem.  I’ve owned the “Powertrip” album for many years on CD, but recently acquired the new vinyl re-issue.  Money well spent.  A truly great, under appreciated band.

Donovan – Season of the Witch

This fantastic song was featured in the Tim Burton movie Dark Shadows, a film I’m a huge fan of (though it appears not many other people are).  Whilst the previous song sounds like something from the sixties, this one is.  It’s a mellow groover that manages to wander out of hippy territory and sound somewhat sinister… Love this track, I felt it was a suitable jam for a Halloween inspired set.

The Damned – Plan 9 Channel 7

Ah, the Damned!  Where would a Halloween themed set be, without a tune from these punk rock proto-Goths?  One of my favourite bands, one of my favourite songs – from the indispensable “Machine Gun Etiquette” album.  Every home should own this!  The song is, of course, written about a viewing of Ed Wood‘s infamous “worst film ever made” – Plan 9 From Outer Space – on American horror channel 9.  Vampira, James Dean, Hollywood after dark – it’s all here in a perfect slice of rampaging pop punk.

The Misfits – American Nightmare

Finally, more horror punk from the masters themselves – the one and only Misfits.  On this track, Danzig and pals abandon the usual Ramones inspired turbo punk and offer up a ridiculously catchy rockabilly number.  Complete with handclaps and Danzig crooning more like Elvis than ever, this track sounds like a lost piece of 50’s nostalgia.  Classic stuff.

There we have it ladies and gentlemen – another great night in Mold!  Thanks to the guys from Halcyon Dreams and VOD music – and Dylan who helped out with an extra turntable!  More 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.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #4

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 2nd October 2015

For this month’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, I decided to have a theme for my set.  Although it was only early in the month of October, I decided to opt for a Halloween theme.  My music choices would have a horror element, or something dark and macabre.

If you’re not familiar with vinyl night, here’s the basic outline:

  • Hosted in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold, turn up and play a fifteen minute set of songs – vinyl only, no CD’s, mp3s, tapes or anything else.
  • Put your name on the list and wait your turn, have a few drinks, listen to the collection of tunes played by other vinyl fans.
  • There are two turntables plus mixing equipment to play your set, plus assistance if you need technical help.

Adam was first up tonight, his set list went as follows:

  • Amen Corner – (If Paradise is) Half As Nice
  • Los Lobos – C’mon Let’s Go
  • Jim Steinman – Surf’s Up
  • Guns’n’Roses – You Could Be Mine

Then it was my turn…

Bobby “Boris” PIckett and the Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash

What better way to start than with this ghoulish classic?  I found this album a few months ago in a charity shop, and couldn’t believe my luck.  It was only a couple of quid, and worth the investment even though I don’t usually spend more than a pound!  This is of course the sixties gem that sound checks various monsters, with Pickett impersonating Karloff (and Lugosi too).  It’s great fun and essential for any Halloween party!

The Damned – Nasty

The first time I ever heard the Damned was when “Eloise” got to number 3 in the charts.  The second time was this fast paced, tongue in cheek ode to horror movies, on the brilliant Young Ones horror spoof episode “Nasty”.  The Damned appear and play this song in the Young Ones’ kitchen.  I was hooked straight away, saved up some money and bought an album with both tracks on it.  Given the exposure this song had, it constantly amazes me that “Nasty” was relegated to a B-side and hardly ever shows up on Damned compilation albums.  I’ve seen the band live more times than any other, but only saw this song performed for the first time a few weeks ago!  Anyway, the Damned are another essential for a Halloween theme.  Still a great song.

Danzig – Sistinas

Although not a horror related song as such, I couldn’t resist the chance to play something by the Dark Lord of rock himself, Danzig.  Instead of a more obvious bone rattling heavy rock number, I chose this incredible ballad that was hidden away on Danzig III: How the Gods Kill.  Glenn shows off his great vocal abilities here on a song that is more Roy Orbison than Black Sabbath.  Appropriately dark and wind swept, this is a morose beauty of a song.

The Misfits – Vampira

To be honest, I was spoiled for choices for a horror theme, there are tons of songs I could’ve played.  Despite risking a Glenn Danzig overdose, I just had to spin a Misfits song.  This band took the horror punk template established by the Damned, the Ramones and the Cramps and ran with it, off into a creepy cemetery populated by every 1950’s B-movie monster ever.  “Walk Among Us” is one of my favourite albums ever, and this short sharp song dedicated to proto Goth babe Vampira is one of their best.

So there you have it – another triumphant evening for Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  There were old songs, new songs, obscure and obvious songs.  There’s always something to make you go away and research another band, that’s the beauty of these nights.  My personal favourite was hearing “Gut Feeling” by Devo!  Already looking forward to the next one.  A theme?  We’ll see…

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all of the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The Misfits – Gig Review

The Misfits

Thursday 26th July 2014

The Live Rooms, Chester

Way back in 1988, as a young skateboarding rapscallion, I bought a vinyl copy of The Misfits album “Walk Among Us“.  I’d heard Metallica’s cover of “Last Caress” and decided to invest in some tunes by the group.  It was a gamble – I had no idea what the rest of their music sounded like.  Neither “Last Caress” nor “Green Hell” were featured on that particular platter.  Nevertheless, I decided to hand over my saved up dinner money to try it out, after some deliberation.

That was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  “Walk Among Us” is, quite simply, one of the best records ever, of any genre.  Any initial trepidation I had was annihilated as soon as the furious pace and sing along vocals were heard.  My ears were opened.  It didn’t hurt that all the songs were about cheesy old B-movies, either.

So imagine my delight when I heard that The Misfits would be playing in Chester, only a few miles from home.  One of my favourite bands ever, so close – there was no way this gig was going to be missed.  I bought tickets immediately.

OK, so Jerry Only is the only (see what I did there?) original member performing under The Misfits name.  No Glenn Danzig, no Doyle.  Even though I’m a huge Danzig fan, I wasn’t going to be precious.  This was a momentous opportunity. images

Besides, there’s Dez Cadena on guitar, who has a fine punk rock pedigree from his time in Black Flag.

So disbelievers be damned, The Misfits gig was on!

I missed the support band though.  Sorry.

The Live Rooms was previously a comedy venue, now it’s showing bands.  It’s a cool venue and worth keeping an eye on to see who to expect.  On this night, the place was absolutely packed out with all manner of black clad loons, anticipating the arrival of the legendary Misfits.  I certainly felt excitement in the air.  Everyone seemed to be hyped up for this gig, me included.  After all, a band like The Misfits playing in these parts is pretty much unheard of.

So the band arrive on stage and are welcomed like all conquering heroes.  As I was stood there, I couldn’t really believe I was experiencing this in person.  The Misfits – here and now, churning out monster hit after hit.  I’m sure others felt the same.

They start with some great tracks from the most recent album, “The Devil’s Rain“.  We also get a smattering of songs from the 90’s era of the band, with “Scream!” a real stand out.  I dig these Graves era tunes, and most of them hold up really well, even against the old Danzig classics.  Only does a fine job of howling out the vocals whilst thundering along on the bass too.

Those old tracks certainly bring a smile though.  “She”, “Bullet” and “Where Eagles Dare” practically tear the roof of the place.  But when we get to gems from “Walk Among Us“, I’m as happy as Bela Lugosi on 31st October.  “Vampira” is probably my favourite Misfits song, so a treat to hear that.  We also get “Hatebreeders”, “Astro Zombies”, “20 Eyes” – the list goes on. Misfits-promo13c

In fact it’s amazing how much material the band get through.  They play a nearly two hour set, and bombard the audience with song after song.  There’s barely a breather between each track.  The Misfits play fast and intense.  All credit to drummer Eric Arce – the Devil knows how he keeps up the relentless pace.  The audience respond with slam dancing/mosh pit craziness like I’ve not witnesses for many a long year.  It will be interesting to see whether the management have second thoughts about booking similar bands in future…

Our only down side  this evening is the sound, which isn’t the best.  From Jerry’s side of the room, where I’m standing, the guitars at the opposite side are frequently lost.  Cadena’s vocals are largely inaudible.  There was a story going round that Dez was suffering with a throat infection, hence why we get a roadie singing the (very good) Black Flag cover.  When we can hear Dez, he’s great.  Still, seems to me like there was some issue sound wise here, though.

The Misfits are exactly what I expected, and that’s fine by me.  From the dry ice enveloped opening, through raucous punk rock and over the top delivery, this is what I paid my money for.  More than just delivering the goods though, The Misfits were genuinely exciting to see.  I’ve seen novelty bands before and while they were fun, they were nothing like this.  This isn’t a tribute band, it’s a well honed, obliterating machine.  It drags us through all eras of The Misfits’ revered history and leaves you grateful to have been a part of it.

Absolutely phenomenal.  Thank you Jerry, Dez and Eric.  Long live The Misfits!

Please check out the Live Rooms soon – if they’re going to support bands like this, you need to support them!

The Misfits web page is here.

The Live Rooms web page is here.