It was late afternoon when I woke. Sunlight was pouring through the blinds like cheap bourbon into a cracked glass, and my mouth was as healthy as a well-worn shoe. Still aching, I reached for a half-finished bottle of warm beer to contemplate the previous nights events. How had I ended up in this mess again?
The culprit was there before me: all innocent now, but I knew the power that lurked inside. A new album by a band called Dayglo Mourning was to blame. I had spent the night lost in a haze of booze and infernal doom metal, my reverie spiralling out of control by the minute.
“Dead Star”, this work was called. An ode to sludgy riffs, apocalyptic drums and earth-shaking riffs in the traditional, old school style. Right up my strasse, then.
Dayglo Mourning are three barbarian bruisers from Atlanta, Georgia: Joe Mills (guitar and vocals), Jerimy McNeil (bass, vocals) and Ray Miner (drums). Together they have created a huge, monolithic prayer to the riff, with a hint of space rock and some fine bluesy flourishes for good measure.
Songs such as the title track and “Faithful Demise” also offer up a warm groove, whilst “The Offering” has more of a blues feel. “Bloodghast” and “Witches Ladder” feature a more direct, pummelling attack, and “Ashwhore” features some spooky, satanic choir work to up the occult ante before ushering in another hefty riff.
Thundering vocals; a great, thick guitar tone and powerful rhythm section teamwork are enhanced with a fine production that’s crisp and clear, yet doesn’t sacrifice the traditional feel.
It’s hard to find fault with “Dead Star”. Maybe the only thing is it’s a little too short? But then, doom is perfect for vinyl, and 35 minutes is all anyone should need.
The album even features a fantastically lurid cover, featuring some foxy space princesses in what looks like a 1970’s Marvel comic. It was this image that had woken me from my stupor; the bright supernatural glow piercing my eyelids as they cracked open. Cheers, Dayglo Mourning – fancy another pint?
Can you think of a more apt genre than doom metal for the times we live in? It’s crazy out there. From a global pandemic, civil unrest, ecological destruction and lunatics in the most powerful seats in the world, the 21st century becomes more and more apocalyptic day by day. Party music doesn’t seem right. On the other hand, the retro stylings of bands like Misty Grey hark back to cosier times of the seventies and eighties when we just had nuclear destruction – and yet more lunatics in power – to contend with.
Misty Grey is not the name of a US mattress actress (don’t bother Googling it, just in case), they are in fact a four-piece doom metal band from Spain. They deal in extremely authentic, good old fashioned heavy rock in the Black Sabbath/Pentagram/Saint Vitus vein. We’re in thundering, enormo riff territory, and by ‘eck it’s good stuff.
Originally receiving a CD release back in 2018, “Chapter II” is now available on vinyl from Interstellar Smoke Records. And a very welcome re-release it is, as “Chapter II” could well have been lost in an Atlantean cataclysm of some type, which would be shameful.
Deceptively pretty Spanish guitar opens the album with a laid-back space-jazz feel, before “Spellbound” erupts with Juan’s raw, grinding guitar. The chugging riff is illustrative of what to expect from this album; it’s Iommi worship all the way (and bless Misty Grey for it).
If that first track is the first Sabbath album, “Strangers on a Train” is a missing Masters of Reality cut. It rolls and grooves along, powered by Robin’s bass and Javi’s drums. On the other hand, “Rebecca” is more like The Obsessed or Saint Vitus, there’s a rough, organic, yet aggressive feel to it.
The musicianship is great, the production has atmosphere and pays homage in a credible, affectionate manner to the band’s influences – without becoming a parody. The vocals of Beatriz Castillo really help define an individual sound for Misty Grey, she is both tender and terrifying in equal, devastating measure.
I apologise to the band for my crass comparisons to the old masters. But hey, I don’t listen to this type of music for radical innovation. The last thing anyone wants to hear is some kind of nu-doom, with samplers and turntables. Keep it slow, keep it weird, keep it trippy – but most of all, keep it riffy. Heavy, repetitive and riffy. Misty Grey do just that on “Chapter II” and it’s all kinds of awesome.
Well, here we are then. The debut album from Bradford based sonic butchers, Son of Boar. And yes, I am quite excited about this release. There are long lost civilisations existing in the South American jungle that, despite having no contact with the outside world, are aware that your pal, Platinum Al, has been desperate to hear this cacophonous compendium for some time.
So, is it any good? Well yeah, obviously. But just what kind of good I shall reveal.
There are five tracks on this eponymous release, across which Son of Boar attempt to cover as much ground as possible. Yes, this is Stoner Doom – it is heavy, it has groove, it has a windswept musical vista that is both fierce and welcoming.
I’ve already reviewed first track, “Stoned Wail”, when it was released as a single a while ago. This mix is punchier though, and still satisfying regardless of any familiarity. The calm wash of ocean waves accompanies a benign introduction; until, just over two minutes in, the full electric muscle of the band is released. SOB hit their groove and plough relentlessly on, whilst vocalist Luke roars about some sweet girl called Mary. I don’t know who Mary is, but she seems like a nice, compassionate lady.
The slow sludge of song number one is contrasted by “All in Your Head”, where SOB pick up the pace and gallop home with a Kyuss covering Maiden flourish. Great rhythm work from Gaz (bass) and Luke D (drums). “Satanic Panic” then devolves brilliantly into the sort of the Corrosion of Conformity style Sabbath worship that enthralled James Hetfield. Powerful, even graceful, but remorseless.
“Snakes and Daggers” reminds me of Motorhead played too slow (33rpm not 45, for the fossils out there). Here the pace varies, with a great, almost psychedelic melodic swash emerging like a surprise visit from a long-lost drinking buddy. Then your old pal gets stinking drunk and kicks off in the taxi rank, and you’re desperately clutching your kebab in puzzlement. What?
You should listen to “Cities of the Deadeyed Priestess” just because it’s a genius song title. It also has some bizarro samples that I need to investigate. Musically, this is another brutal head crusher: meat and potatoes riffs and fine melodic hues courtesy of guitarists Lyndon and Adam.
And there you have it: five songs, one debut album. A fine band; they’re awesome live, have the best t-shirt designs I’ve seen in donkeys and are creating a real sense of cult-like, underground authenticity that is addictive. If I could afford to buy a copy of this album for everyone reading this review, I would. Even that weirdo at the back.
And Son of Boar have only just begun their journey…
The Brothers Keg – Folklore, Myths and Legends of the Brothers Keg
Release date: 11/09/2020
Running time: 44 minutes
Review by: Alun Jones
And lo, the ancient seers have foretold of the coming of the Brothers Keg. Anticipation building slowly, the wise masters of APF Records have foretold a fortuitous event, something that would elate the masses and bring joyous union to the land. At least it feels that way, Old Al can’t be the only one who’s been expecting something special with this release.
The Brothers Keg are a three-piece band from London way; comprising Tom Fyfe on drums, Tom Hobson on guitar and vocals and Paul Rosser on bass/vocals. Together, their music is colossal stoner/doom with a huge sound, massive ambition, and a fine angle on self-mythologising. The result is an album so epic, so over the top and downright fun – that the Brothers deserve every ounce of assured swagger that they no doubt possess.
Tom Hobson himself describes the sound as “HP Lovecraft meets Queen’s Flash Gordon listening to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds at the wrong speed smoking a medieval spliff dipped in poppers.” That’s this review written really – do I need to sell this any harder to you?
If you need more persuasion, imagine a cult sci-fi fantasy B-movie soundtrack featuring spoken word narration and bludgeoning riffs, and you’re halfway there. Tracks like “Moorsmen” and “The Army of the Thirsty Blade Approaches” are skull splittingly mighty, generating a genuine feeling of excitement.
“No Earthly Form” and “Brahman” have it all: heavy guitar and pounding rhythm; countered with atmospheric psychedelia that the listener can absorb like a movie. “Brahman” is nearly 13 minutes of music that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome: from meditative chanting, a killer stoner riff, and washes of acid-soaked guitars creating a spacious landscape.
The narration adds to the band’s mystique without being cheesy or silly. Yes, it’s all ridiculously good fun – but the sheer weight of musical invention adds up to something exceptional. Add in some glorious cover artwork (that looks like a cyborg He-Man pursued by a demented Skeletor) and “Folklore, Myths and Legends of the Brothers Keg” possesses an undeniable charisma. I want the vinyl, the t-shirt, the poster – I want everything. Hell, I want Brothers Keg action figures (with weapons and musical accessories, features small parts, ages 3 and up) and I want them NOW!
Another contender for album of the year? You betcha.
Of course, the Brothers Keg aren’t the only famous brothers in rock. Those crazy Van Halen boys are two of my favourites – oh, I used to have some wild times with them. Like the time they pulled the thread out of the crotch of David Lee Roth’s pants, so when he performed one of his patented scissor jumps – the pants split and Diamond Dave’s family jewels were revealed for all. You didn’t need to be in the front row to see it everything, I can tell you.
Dave had his revenge at a later gig, though. Backstage, he switched out the blue M&Ms in a complimentary dish for laxative pills; Eddie’s tight white trousers were not a pleasant site at all that night. Now you know why their rider has always stipulated the blue M&Ms are removed ever since.
In February last year, I interviewed Chester based punk/grunge band Ryuko at Pentre Fest. Due to numerous unavoidable issues – not least this blasted pandemic – the piece was unfinished till recently. Not long ago, this post finally appeared on Ever Metal, and I thought I’d republish it here too. Enjoy!
“Grandpa, what’s a gig?”
“Well son, a gig was what we used to call a band playing live music, in front of an audience.”
“What, people watching musicians play their instruments? Crazy!”
“I know it seems like a strange idea to you youngsters, but it used to be a fantastic experience. Actually being able to gather with friends and strangers to enjoy hearing music. It was another world.”
That’s what the situation seems like right now: no gigs, no gatherings for entertainment – the old days sometimes feel like a lifetime ago. At least it seemed a whole different world back in February 2020, before the pandemic, when I caught up with Chester based band Ryuko at Pentre Fest.
The three piece – comprising The Bobfather (guitars/vocals), Captain Andy (bass) and MattMan (drums) were something of an anomaly at the metal-centric Pentre Fest. Not that Ryuko don’t rock out, but their brand of punky, alternative rock was a little different from the other bands on show. I found their style of honest, yet far from pretentious rock’n’roll refreshing and it added a vital tone to the proceedings.
Post gig, I caught up with the band to pose some questions and contemplate the meaning of life.
First off, the cliched yet crucial discussion on influences:
Bob: It’s weird, ‘cos we’ve got influences from all over. If you listen to one of our sets, it has stages: it starts off punky, then it goes alternative rock. Then it goes a little metal/grungy, then back to punk at the end.
Matt: Drop D then back to punk! I’m a huge fan of Motorhead and Metallica, the list goes on, so me being the drummer, I was always doing these thrash beats. To go from that to stepping into this, this was more fun to me. I really enjoy myself when I’m behind the kit with these guys.
Bob: When I write the songs, I listen to quite a broad variety of music, so I think that becomes apparent in my songs. I don’t like to write the same song twice. As far as when I started out, I would say when I was a teenager, I first started listening to Nirvana, Carter USM. I also drew influences from a lot of electro – The Prodigy and stuff like that – so sometimes I’d try and work out how to play dance songs on a guitar. And then that would give me the influence to write more interesting songs. I like to try and fuse a bunch of different genres together, make it more interesting.
Andy: I listen to a lot of Neil Young, I think he’s a very diverse artist. He’s done folk, he’s also done electric stuff.
How do you promote yourselves?
Matt: I’m more into social media than these guys are. We’re promoting ourselves on Facebook, we’re gonna make a new YouTube account. That’s kind of going up and down at the moment…
Bob: We don’t know how to work it!
Where does the name Ryuko come from?
Bob: I’m really into anime and all things Japanese, Japanese music… At the time I was watching an anime called Kill la Kill. The main character is called Ryuko Matoi and I just thought it was a really cool name. Some really fun facts: Ryuko is one of the least popular names in Japan. It basically means “rebirth”, start over. So I thought, we’re starting again, it’s a really cool name.
Andy: Well it’s not a cool name in Japan, is it?
Bob: It’s cool to me! I think it’s cool!
Andy: I do wish we’d chosen a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce.
Bob: People can never say it.
Your cover of the Madness classic “Baggy Trousers” tonight was a surprising choice, but great!
Matt: We decided to spruce that up to make it ours. The original is completely different to how I play it, I add extra little bits just to make it more funky.
Do you feel you’ve got the right band dynamic between the three of you?
Bob: We’re pretty good as we are. More people add more complications cos you’ve got to think – are they free; do they drive, are they going to be available…
Matt: I’ve got a son, he’s 9, we discuss upcoming gigs before we agree to it. If I’ve got my son and he comes along with us, if he’s allowed in the venue we play – he’s got his little ear defenders, he just sits in the corner and watches us or plays his game.
Bob: I’ve got three jobs…
Sounds like a positive environment to work in.
It’s got to be positive, if it’s not it just doesn’t work. If no-one’s happy, nothing gets done.
So, what’s next? What are your plans?
Bob: World domination! One step at a time…
Andy: We’ve been working on re-doing our EP, we’ve been recording on and off. Recording, playing as many gigs as we can.
And there you have it: an enjoyable chat with the gentlemen of Ryuko. Make sure you check them out live, as and when we can return to the experience of live music. If grungy, punky alt rock with some metallic crunch is your thing, then Ryuko will be just the antidote you need in these dreary times.
With apologies to Ryuko, who have waited months for this interview to see the light of day.
Check out Ryuko on Bandcamp and Facebook. Plus you can follow this link to listen to the interview on YouTube – yes, you can admire my fantastic interviewing skills for real!
We all make mistakes. Some of us blunder all the time, and the consequence of those slip-ups can be catastrophic. And some of us don’t like to admit when we’re wrong.
Confession time: I volunteered to review this Firewind album because I got them mixed up with another band with “fire” in the name (or possibly a couple). I was slightly mortified when I realised that this band weren’t what I was expecting: none of the sludgy comfort blanket that I usually wrap my ears in.
Firewind are – Zeus help me – a melodic, power metal band. Not a corner of metal that I’m particularly well versed in, or a fan of. I fucking hate Helloween, for a start. And Queensryche. And fucking Europe. This was going to be a challenge.
Yet your old pal Al is nothing if not a trooper. They’re (partially) Greek, which intrigued me being a huge fan of the country. I plunged into this assignment with an open mind – and do you know what? This isn’t bad at all. In fact, I quite enjoyed it.
Opening track “Welcome to the Empire” begins with some fine acoustic guitar before erupting into a big, bombastic rock monster. It is, like most of the album, totally over the top – but also loads of fist pumping fun. This ain’t pop music. It’s fast and powerful (see “Devour”), and while not quite as brutal as my usual preferences, packs a mighty whallop.
The musicianship is exemplary. Guitar genius Gus G has plenty of flair, but can throw out some crushing, crunchy riffs when required: “Rising Fire” and “Space Cowboy” being a two great examples. Fast, flashy solos ain’t my scene, but there’s plenty of chugging metal to keep me interested.
The rhythm section – Petros Christo (bass) and Jo Nunez (drums) go beyond textbook and play excellently throughout the album. Give “Orbitual Sunrise” and “Overdrive” a go for evidence.
Vocals provided by new singer Herbie Langhans are dramatic, in a typically Teutonic fashion. This guy is straight out of a Wagnerian epic; despite being somewhat more operatic than I’m used to, he can certainly belt it out. On every single song.
Sorry to disappoint any readers who thought they might actually read a less than positive review from yours truly. Firewind isn’t my usual cup of absinthe with opium chaser, but I found it very easy to appreciate. This album is well played, well written, well produced and delivered with some love and pride – all of which manages to steer this album away from trite cliche.
Metal wearing its heart on its sleeve and with a refreshing honesty, I just couldn’t bring myself to hate Firewind. If I can dig it, then fans of this genre will love it.
Read more like this review on the Ever Metal website.
Singles don’t often get reviewed here at Ever Metal, purely because there’s so damn many of them. They just can’t compete with the album reviews. But rules are made to be broken, and this release from Son of Boar demanded some attention. Having witnessed the live onslaught of this band at Pentre Fest earlier this year, Son of Boar have risen on to my personal favourites list, and I’m damn near rabid for any new material.
Waves crash as a mesmeric bass begins to chime, creating a deceptively ambient vibe. Guitars and drums warm the sound as the band slowly build momentum. They’re in no rush, but when the main riff kicks in, it’s worth the wait. Luke’s vocals roar and the song rises like a leviathan from the depths. “Stoned Wail” is 9 minutes of powerful, groove laden doom rhythms: thundering bass, churning guitars and crashing drums. This fisherman’s tale is indeed a whopper of humungous proportions.
With two additional live tracks (“Outlet” and the boogie influenced “The Weekend”), this is a great introductory package to a band destined for big things. “Stoned Wail” is taken from the forthcoming debut album, which, to be honest, I’m shitting my shoes off in anticipation for. TUSKS UP!
First of all, an important note for all readers: Randy Holden is NOT the name of a winning hand in strip poker. I used the phrase at a recent gathering at my Rock’n’Roll Naturist Society club, and nearly got a bunch of fives from Ozzy as a thank you. Tommy Lee was up for it though, as you can probably imagine.
Anyway, Randy Holden is actually a guitar pioneer who served some time with proto-metal giants Blue Cheer, before splitting to take the helm of his own project. Population II was the result – a far ahead of it’s time Big Bang of doom and sludge metal.
Originally receiving a limited release in 1969, this album has earned cult status with afficionados of early heavy rock. And it’s no surprise why; “Population II” is a huge sounding, riff driven behemoth that sounds like it simply can’t have been created in that time period.
But it was. The era that popular culture tells us was the age of peace and love also birthed this unholy slab of heavy noise. Randy Holden, like his previous bandmates in Blue Cheer, was happily stomping all over flower power.
Of course, “Population II” is totally over the top. “Guitar Song” is the first track, featuring the somewhat unimaginative opening line “I love the sound of a guitar playing” – so no marks for lyrical finesse. If you’re after poetry, this probably ain’t for you. Instead it’s six minutes of slow, heavy driving riff-based rock that sets the tone for the album.
“Fruit Icebergs” is an outstanding name for any song; in fact, I might steal it for a band name. Slow like cooling lava, with a doom-laden melancholic sound – It’s dark in a Sabbath way. Whereas the shorter “Between Time” picks up the pace a little and borrows a chorus from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.
“Blue My Mind” is less gloomy, but certainly taps into the blues with a hint of Hendrix. The final song, “Keeper of my Flame” is over 10 minutes of pulsating, repetitive riff wrestling that doesn’t out stay it’s welcome. Ol’ Randy stretches for the epic here and pretty much nails it, strangling that guitar and taking the listener on a heroic journey.
Yet another history lesson for which we can thank the scholars at Riding Easy Records, Randy Holden’s “Population II” is back in circulation and worth taking time to investigate. You’ll wonder how this was lost for so long.
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.
Time for another review I wrote for Ever Metal, which you can now read at the Virtual Hot Tub:
Wizard Rifle – Wizard Rifle
Release date: 30/08/2019
Running Time: 45 mins
Review by: Alun Jones
Right, about time I got back to business with these album reviews for my pals at Ever Metal. But how do you define the indefinable? ‘Cos that’s basically the issue I’ve had with this review (not writer’s block, honest). Comparing Wizard Rifle to other bands in myopic, lazy journo style just doesn’t seem to cut it with these guys.
There’s too much going on with Wizard Rifle’s self-titled album to accurately pin down a clumsy similarity to someone else. It’s a mixture of loud, obnoxious metal, post rock, screamy hardcore punk and grungy sludge; with waves of psychedelic beauty tying it together.
Despite the unholy wall of noise that the band produce there are just two of them – guitarist/vocalist Max Dameron and drummer/vocalist Sam Ford. That’s a hell of a racket for just two people. They’re not short of ideas either, as the genre blending demonstrates. Maybe that’s an advantage of just two minds, rather than several – Dameron and Ford display some ingenious telepathy weaving their creations together.
Loads of energy too – “Rocket to Hell” (great title) is a glorious, shouty opener, and “Caveman Waltz” is a possible contender for Riff of the Year. It chugs like a drug fuelled locomotive trying to jump the Grand Canyon.
There are only five songs on this record, but as none of them are under seven minutes in length, there’s plenty of value for money. The guys have learnt to expand a song and explore its possibilities in a way that keeps the ear engaged. Like on the 12 minute epic “Funeral of the Sun”, which stretches out hypnotically but loses none of its heavy intensity.
Wizard Rifle are from the Portland, Oregon area – which as it’s the Pacific North West, must surely be Big Foot country. So, I’m gonna coin a lazy journo phrase and label this sound Big Foot Rock. Remember, you read it here first. And yes, when this band are huge and Big Foot Rock takes over Western Civilization, I’ll be claiming the royalties for inventing that label.
Big Foot Rock T-shirt, sir? That’ll be £19.99. “Now That’s What I Call Bigfoot Rock, Vol 1” vinyl compilation? Just £27.99. Can I change a fifty? Oh, keep the change? Thank you very much.