Fields of the Nephilim – Gig Review

Fields of the Nephilim + The Faces of Sarah

Friday 10th September 2021

Buckley Tivoli

It had been a good 18 months since I last attended a gig, and leaving the house to join a throng of fans enjoying live music seemed like a very strange proposition. I’d actually forgotten all about the concert, as tickets had been booked long before lockdown. Heading up to the Tiv was both exciting and, if I’m honest, a little unnerving.

On entering the venue, it was just like old times: a great vibe as the crowd drank and awaited the bands. As life was getting back to normal, the Goths had crept from the shadows near and far, ready to witness Fields of the Nephilim.

The support band, The Faces of Sarah, were already attempting to breathe life into the evening. Unfortunately, and unusually for the Tiv, they could hardly be heard. I wasn’t too far away, but could barely make out the sound of the instruments. The guitarist looked to be going for it, throwing shapes like a crazed gibbon, but to no avail. The dual lead vocals were extremely impressive, however the poor sound made them come across like an AOR outfit.

Had my old copy of the Usborne Book of Goths been on my person, I could’ve ticked off several obvious dark rock tropes from the moment Fields of the Nephilim took the stage. There was so much dry ice the band could barely be seen, just a group of grey silhouettes in dusty cowboy hats. They begin in true over the top, cinematic style with “The Harmonica Man”. Atmosphere is poured on with no restraint.

And that’s exactly what I paid my money for: I wanted the full experience without any subtlety, and by God, that’s what the audience got.

FOTN erupted into “Preacher Man” and we all loved it. There’s no onstage frontman/audience banter (till the very end) and that, again, is just how I expected it. The songs bounce along like little Goth demons knowing Halloween isn’t far away.

“Moonchild” was an obvious highlight, with its slow, moody intro leading into the searing guitar and rumbling bass. The whole set is all treat, no tricks – I got the feeling that this is exactly how FOTN would’ve performed 30 years ago. The whole set is absolutely note perfect and full of every excess that the audience could devour.

I’d also forgotten how much I enjoy live music. This evening was a fantastic reminder of what we’ve been missing – can’t wait for more.

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.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #20

Here we go with the first Singles Night of 2021! The Virtual Hot Tub is ecstatic with anticipation for the return of these playlists.

What’s it all about? Well, I’m glad you asked. The singles in question are 45rpm vinyl singles, which I have accumulated over time from various sources. The plan: listen to the records, side A then side B, one after the other without skipping any in the pile. Whilst drinking booze.

Let’s see how I got on this time…

  1. The Temptations – “Psychedelic Shack” / “That’s the Way Love Is”
  2. Queen – “Killer Queen” / “Flick of the Wrist”
  3. Buzzcocks – “I Don’t Mind” / “Autonomy”
  4. The Clash – “Bankrobber” / “Rockers Galore… UK Tour”
  5. The Clash – “Complete Control” / “City of the Dead”
  6. The Damned – “History of the World Part 1” / “I Believe the Impossible” / “Sugar & Spite”
  7. Skids – “Sweet Suburbia” / “Open Sound”
  8. The Beach Boys – “Mona” / “Rock and Roll Music” / “Sail on Sailor” / “Marcella”
  9. ABBA – “Head Over Heels” / “The Visitors”
  10. Bananarama – “Cheers Then” / “Girl About Town”
  11. The Belle Stars – “Sign of the Times” / “Madness”
  12. Chicory Tip – “Son of My Father” / “Pride Comes Before a Fall”
  13. John Farnham – “You’re the Voice” / “Going, Going, Gone”
  14. Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour” / “Don’t Know Why I Love You”
  15. Bardo – “One Step Further” / “Lady of the Night”
  16. The Motors – “Love and Loneliness” / “Time for Make-Up”
  17. Hot Chocolate – “So You Win Again” / “A Part of Being with You”
  18. Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” / “Screw You”
  19. Blondie – “The Tide is High” / “Susie and Jeffrey”
  20. Slade – “We’ll Bring the House Down” / “Hold on to Your Hats”

Twenty – count ’em – twenty great tracks. Well, mostly. A solid offering from the world of punk rock in that collection, with the Buzzcocks, Clash, Damned and Skids singles all being salvaged from a local charity shop. Lucky day.

I had a great night spinning these discs, there are some really awesome records to add to the collection there. Time for more soon. Stay tuned!

The Goners – Good Mourning Album Review

The Goners – Good Mourning

RidingEasy Records (Us/Them Group)

Release date: 13/03/2020

Running time: 41 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

This little beauty threw off it’s shackles and ran for the hills, almost without me noticing.  I’m blaming the societal breakdown caused by Corona virus, obviously not an oversight on my part.  No, sir.  “Good Mourning” – the debut album from The Goners – was released back in March 2020; just before the world turned into a 1970’s Charlton Heston dystopian sci-fi movie.

The Goners are comprised of Nate Gone – formerly of Salem’s Pot – on vocals, with four dudes from Swedish rock band Yvonne.  “Good Mourning” is a throw-back to zoned-out good times and bizarro occult rock, with absolutely no regret the morning after.

First song “Are You Gone Yet” sets the pace nicely: fuzzy 60’s garage rock with a proto metal ferocity.  With the next track, “High, Low and Never In Between”, the Goners throw in more of their other specialty – 70s doom with groovy, care-free freak outs.

Wonderfully out of time, this retro feast also sounds totally now.  You can throw this on your portable music system and liven up any social gathering (so long as you stay far enough apart).  Press play and jump around all crazy-style to “Evil (Is Not Enough)” and “The Little Blue” – this is Black Sabbath if they were a Stones cover band.

Plus – and this seals the deal – a couple of fine, desert bleached songs in “Good Ol’ Death” and “Dead in the Saddle” that rattle with a dread atmosphere.  Absolutely essential for your next David Lynch/rockabilly/goth themed horror party.

“Good Mourning” by The Goners, then: if you’re a werewolf biker trapped in a cursed world you never made, but like to let your scraggy hair down with chicks from a Russ Meyer movie – this is for you.  Great cover art, too.

I’ve thought I was a goner myself, on a few occasions: most of them involving my old mucker Ozzy Osbourne.  One time, we were drinking in a golf club in LA and got thrown out, as you can imagine.  So, Ozzy decided to go for a joyride in a golf buggy, with me on shotgun.  He was flooring it, but we were only going at a jogging pace, so the golfers soon caught us up and were ready to brain us with their hitty-stick things.

All of a sudden, Oz drove the buggy over a hill and we toppled into a sand dune (bunker?).  We were lucky we were thrown clear and the buggy just managed to avoid crushing the pair of us.  The golfers took pity and consoled us with a nice brandy in the clubhouse.  Till the cops turned up, and dragged Ozzy and me off to jail.  The whole time, we were both wearing Sharon’s dresses.

Find The Goners on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Check out the RidingEasy Records website, or find them on Bandcamp or Facebook.

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

Halloween Horror Fest 2020

Good evening, guys and ghouls! Enter, my friends, sit down near the fire and warm yourselves from the cold outside. It’s dark, and many strange things are afoot this night. Listen closely, and I will tell you of them…

Yes, it’s October – and time for another Halloween Horror Fest! Many of you may be feeling that 2020 has been horrible enough, but I’m going to press on anyway. Regular readers will remember that every October, I try to watch a load of spooky or creepy films. Not all of the films may be true horror, but there will always be an element of the bizarre or supernatural that will make them appropriate for this time of year.

Here we go with the first Horror Fest movie of the year…

Dracula (1958)

What could be better than starting the proceedings with a Hammer classic? Titled Horror of Dracula in the US to differentiate this film from the 1931 Universal version, Hammer films followed up the success of The Curse of Frankenstein with another venture into Gothic horror.

Sadly, the plot of this film veers away from the original novel a great deal, something that always bothered me from first viewing many years ago. I guess the viewer just has to accept that this isn’t a faithful rendering of Bram Stoker’s tale, rather a condensed and re-engineered take on the story.

We still begin with Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen), arriving at Castle Dracula, where he is to take up employment as the Count’s librarian. In reality, Harker is there to destroy Dracula (a superb Christopher Lee) and end the counts reign of vampiric terror. Sadly this is not to be, and Harker meets his end at the fangs of the vampire count. Shortly thereafter, Harker’s vampire hunting colleague Dr Van Helsing (Peter Cushing – also excellent) is on the trail, and realises that Dracula is on his way to Harker’s home town, to enact revenge and turn the heroes friends and relatives into the undead.

Despite changing the story and confusing characters from the book, this film becomes a hugely enjoyable accomplishment. The sets are superb, James Bernard’s score is iconic and Director Terence Fisher masterfully keeps the suspense and action mounting. Although the gore and erotic undertone were restrained by the censor (something Hammer would deliver more of in the future), it’s a lush colour production that is simply gorgeous to watch.

Michael Gough as Arthur Holmwood, and Melissa Stribling as Mina Holmwood, provide great performances, as do all the cast. But Cushing and Lee elevate the film to mythic status – Lee in particular becoming the embodiment of Dracula with a power and menace that makes his role unforgettable.

Hammer’s Dracula may not be definitive, if you’re a fan of the source novel, but it’s bloody good entertainment.

8/10

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #17

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 29th November 2019

Finally, months later, I made it to another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  It’s been far too long, but it was great to be back.  A few beers, some great food, and awesome music always makes for an entertaining evening.

Hosted by Halcyon Dreams in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold, North Wales, Bring Your Own Vinyl Night is an opportunity to be a DJ for a night.  Each person has a 15 minute slot to play whatever they like, vinyl only.

It’s never an easy task, narrowing down my collection to just a handful of songs to play.  I didn’t go for a theme this time, just a few tracks that I thought worthy of sharing.

Here’s what I unleashed:

Betty Davis – If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up

I decided to start the set with this funk-rock hybrid from cult soul singer and one time Mrs Miles Davis: the amazing Betty Davis.  I’d heard about Betty’s work on the grapevine; after checking this album out online I knew I had to track a vinyl copy down.  “If I’m in Luck…” is a raunchy number powered by hard rock guitar riffs and a phenomenally funky beat.  Highly recommended!

Iggy and the Stooges – Gimme Danger

My favourite track on the third Stooges record, “Gimme Danger” is a timeless classic.  The “Raw Power” album that housed it apparently fared badly on initial release, but blossomed with a cult following in later years.  Every home should have a copy of this fantastic record.  “Gimme Danger” lures the listener into a false sense of security with an unusually melodic guitar part, yet still weaves a web of debauchery and chaos.

The Cult – Lucifer

The Cult have been one of my favourite bands over the years, going right back to my teens with the “Love” and “Electric” albums.  They’re still delivering quality music, with the album “Choice of Weapon” (from which “Lucifer” is taken) being a highlight.  There’s a huge, epic riff driving this song – one of those tracks that I usually have to have on repeat, ‘cos just one play ain’t enough.

The Donnas – Who Invited You

In 2002, The Donnas released one of the best rock’n’nroll albums in years with “Spend the Night”, an energetic blend of AC/DC style hard rock and Ramones punk.  Sadly it was released in the CD age, so I don’t own a vinyl copy.  But I did hunt down the 7″ single of “Who Invited You” so that I can enjoy at least one magnificent song from the album on vinyl.  Re-issue, somebody, please!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that – for me at least.  There were plenty of other great songs played throughout the evening which you can check out via the Halcyon Dreams links below.

In all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening – sharing the wonder of music and vinyl in a great pub.  I mustn’t leave it so long till my next Vinyl Night visit.

With thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music – well done guys!

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.

Wales Comic Con 2019

Wales Comic Con 

Saturday 27th – Sunday 8th April 2019

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

Storm Hannah was raging on Saturday when my family and I made one of our regular visits to Wales Comic Con.  The usual site at Glyndwr University was drowning under torrential downpours and lashed by fierce winds.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it really was grim.  Thor, God of Thunder, must have been in a really bad mood.  Or maybe it was Storm from the X-Men?

As a result, our family day trip was a bit of a washout.  Corridors were packed out as attendees shuffled along like zombies from The Walking Dead.

We managed to get into the merch tent, which was also very crowded and difficult to get near to the stalls.  Some traders looked to be suffering as the marquis roof was leaking rainwater.

I didn’t manage to get many photos of Cosplayers or props etc.  Most people were wrapped up against the elements, or there just wasn’t room to take a pic.  I don’t think anyone particularly felt like dawdling, posing for a photo – and I didn’t fancy hanging around in the wet!

The queue to get in to the signing tent was massive, stretching outdoors as people waited to get in.  As it was still chucking it down, we decided not to bother joining the line and decided to leave.

No big deal for me as I wasn’t really interested in autographs; Mrs Platinum Al had been thinking about meeting Kiefer Sutherland for a signing though, so that never happened..

But we’d had enough – the miserable weather had us beat.  We were wet through.  Basically, we paid £22 each to look round some stalls in a leaking tent.

Now nobody can be blamed for the weather, it was just unfortunate.  I did feel sorry for the traders with their soaked merchandise.  And the people in the rain waiting to have a photograph with a celeb whilst they looked like they’d just been rescued from the Titanic.

And the poor celebs too – what a welcome to the country!

Well the only answer was to just get on and make the most of things, which I think most did.  The organisers can’t be blamed for Storm Hannah.  Maybe in the future they need to consider shelters for the queue, rain or shine.

Sunday’s weather was much improved, however we’d only got tickets for Saturday.  The reason for that was because Rupert Grint, some Harry Potter kid, was there that day.  For some reason this was a big deal in our house, so we booked tickets for Saturday (the only day Ron Weasley was there) rather than our usual Sunday.

After buying the tickets, we then found out that autographs with Rupert would cost over £130 – so he was priced out of our range anyway.  Ironically, had we known that cost up front, we’d have bought Sunday tickets; avoided the storm and had a great day.

Rupert Grint better not show his face round here, I’ll stick his wand where the sun doesn’t shine for him.

The Wales Comic Con website is here.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #8

OK, so Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub is not a dating service.  What it is, is me spending an evening playing through my ever growing stack of 45 rpm vinyl singles and having a drink or three.

Here’s the latest batch of 7 inch goodness:

  1. Elvis Presley – “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” / “Patch It Up”
  2. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Song From the Edge of the World” / “The Whole Price of Blood”
  3. The Rolling Stones – “Undercover of the Night” / “All the Way Down”
  4. Queen – “Headlong” / “All God’s People”
  5. Ozzy Osbourne – “Shot in the Dark” / “Rock’n’Roll Rebel”
  6. The KLF – “What Time is Love? (Live at Transcentral)” / “What Time is Love? (Techno Gate Mix)”
  7. Linda Lusardi – “Eye Contact” / “Eye Contact (Club Mix)”
  8. Philip Bailey – “Easy Lover (with Phil Collins)” / “Woman”
  9. Albert King – “Born Under a Bad Sign” / “I Got the Blues”
  10. Isaac Hayes – “Do Your Thing” / “Ellie’s Love Theme (Instrumental)”
  11. Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell” / “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows”
  12. Kim Wilde – “Love Blonde” / “Can You Hear It”
  13. Aerosmith – “Love in an Elevator” / “Young Lust”
  14. Talking Heads – “And She Was” / “Perfect World”
  15. Shakin’ Stevens – “Because I Love You” / “Tell Me One More Time”
  16. Samantha Fox – “Do Ya Do Ya (Wanna Please Me)” / “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again”
  17. Can – “I Want More” / “More”
  18. ABBA – “Knowing Me, Knowing You” / “Happy Hawaii”
  19. KC & The Sunshine Band – “That’s the Way (I Like It)” / “Queen of Clubs”
  20. Madonna – “Into the Groove” / “Shoo-Bee-Doo”
  21. Dean Martin – “Return to Me” / “Forgetting You”
  22. Roxy Music – “Pyjamarama” / “The Pride and the Pain”
  23. Steve Winwood – “Valerie” / “Talking Back to the Night (Instrumental Version)”
  24. Glen Campbell – “Why Don’t We Just Sleep on it Tonight (with Tanya Tucker)” / A Daisy a Day”

The selection above was, as always, determined by whatever was next on the pile.  There’s no choosing songs involved, it’s just playing the records in order.

But what a great selection that was!  Not one, but two 1980’s Page 3 legends; plus a load of tunes from classic rock to pop, country and soul.

By the way: What’s Madonna and a piece of toilet paper got in common?

They both get into the groove!  HAHA!

I had a great time spinning these tunes, more soon.

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”

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #3

No, not that kind of Singles Night!  This is all about working through the stack of 45 rpm singles that I’ve picked up from various sources over the last few months.  I play them in order, regardless of how good or bad they are, and whether I’m in the mood for a certain genre or artist or not.

And there are some stinkers in the collection.  Some ripe specimens that I just had to own for some reason or other.  Don’t ask me, none of it makes much sense to me either.

There are, of course, a few absolute gems in there too.  Let’s see how this current session played out…

  1. Sinitta – “Toy Boy” / “Toy Boy Instrumental”
  2. The Jam – “Beat Surrender” / “Shopping”
  3. Marc Bolan – “Sing Me a Song” / “Endless Sleep” / “The Lilac Hand of Menthol Dan”
  4. Herbie Hancock – “I Thought It Was You” / “No Means Yes”
  5. Debbie Harry – “Backfired” / “Military Rap”
  6. The Stranglers – “European Female” / “Savage Breast”
  7. The Cult – “Revolution (Remix)” / “All Souls Avenue” / “Judith” / “Sunrise”
  8. Status Quo – “What You’re Proposing” / “AB Blues”
  9. Johnny Cash – “25 Minutes To Go” / “I’m Gonna Try To Be That Way”
  10. Tom Jones – “It’s Not Unusual” / “To Wait For Love”
  11. All About Eve – “Martha’s Harbour” / “Another Door”
  12. The Tornados – “Telstar” / “Globetrotter”
  13. Dr Hook – “Sexy Eyes” / “Help Me Mama”
  14. Kim Wilde – “Chequered Love” / “Shane”
  15. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy” / “King Kong”
  16. Blondie – “Hanging On The Telephone” / “Will Anything Happen?”
  17. Bananarama – “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” / “Tell Tale Signs”
  18. Althia & Donna – “Love One Another” / “Mighty Two”

Hey, you know what?  I think I acquitted myself quite well with that selection.  Despite kicking off with yet more Sinitta, there were definitely some great tracks in that list.  Let’s wait and see how I do next time…