Pentre Fest 2020

Pentre Fest 2020

McLean’s Pub, Pentre Deeside

21st & 22nd February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

You have to be there next year!

Ryuko

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

Rhiannon and Rachel

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

Mike West

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

OMV

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

Luke Appleton

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

Son of Boar

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

Pentre Fest on Facebook.

N.E.W Metal Productions on Facebook.

Goodfor Audio Entertainment on Facebook

Mcleans Pub Live on Facebook.

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit Album Review

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit

Self released, Dewar PR

Release Date: 17/08/2018

Running Time: 51 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

20.07.1964 – 18.05.2017

Writing this memorial piece is a hard thing to do.  I was a massive fan of Chris Cornell and had been for many, many years.  I was left stunned, then in disbelief, and finally great sorrow when I stumbled on news of his death early that morning.

I had discovered Soundgarden with their “Louder Than Love” album back around 1990.  Music back then was shifting; I’d been listening to what would become “alternative rock” for some time and Soundgarden fitted right in with my tastes.  Along with other bands of the time like Jane’s Addiction and Mudhoney, I liked these bands that were able to meld classic heavy rock with a punk approach.  Bands like Soundgarden threw influences across the musical landscape into one pot.

When “Badmotorfinger” was released, I became a full on Soundgarden devotee.  The band soundtracked the ups and downs of my student life, the good times and bad.  The excellent “Superunknown” album cemented this noise in my affections even further.

Their sound evolved as Soundgarden explored and developed.  The riffs could still be inhumanly heavy, but there other sounds filtering through – from the whimsical to the psychedelic.  Listening to those albums was an experience that took the listener on a journey through different sounds and textures, feelings and emotions.

And of course, there was that amazing voice.  Chris Cornell could croon soothingly or wail like a tormented banshee – an awe inspiring ability that added yet more colour to the band’s sound.

Following Soundgarden’s split, I followed Chris’s musical journey through his solo endeavours and work with Audioslave.  I also loved his Bond theme – “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale.  I’ve played that many times to psyche myself up before a challenging situation, I can tell you.

I’ve tried to edit these recollections down, but revisiting some of the touch points in my life – where the music of Chris Cornell (and band mates) has been integral – goes some way to understanding the respect I have for the man and his legacy.

Sadly, now he’s gone.  I never saw Chris Cornell live (I went to Reading festival in 1994 but Soundgarden pulled out at the last minute) and I’d been looking forward to more music in the future.

It’s heart breaking to know that Chris is gone, and there’s no more music.  We’ve reached the end of that journey.  But what a legacy he’s left.  I’ll revisit those records again and again.  Though full of reminiscences of my past, those songs and performances are immortal.

I won’t speculate on the nature of Chris’s death, it’s not my place.  There are dark places that the human soul can go to.  It’s just incredibly sad.

Thanks for the music, Chris Cornell.  An exceptional musician who has left an indelible mark on millions of us.

“Heaven send
Hell away
No one sings
Like you anymore”

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #11

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 24th February 2017

It’s the first Bring Your Own Vinyl Night of the year!  It was great to be back in the Queen’s Head in Mold for another Vinyl Night, and nice to see all the familiar faces after the Christmas break.

Most of all, it was great to have a few pints and hear some great music, old and new.

To recap how this works (though I’m sure you know by now): everyone gets 15 minutes to play whatever music they like, so long as it’s on vinyl.

Here’s my playlist for the evening:

Professor Elemental – I’m British

For my first song of the set, I craved something a little different. So I decided on a track from Professor Elemental, a gentleman of some repute who is known to fashion extraordinary “chap hop” tunes.  That is, steam punk hip-hop (sort of).  I’ve seen the good Professor live a couple of times (at Sci-Fi Weekender) and was astonished at this marvellous mash-up from the get go.  A few months back I tracked down some vinyl via the Prof’s Bandcamp page; lo and behold it was a sonic delight.  Lively beats and unusual samples – more brass band than James Brown – meld with humorous, uniquely British rap topics to create a wonderful new hybrid.  This track was the perfect primer for the uninitiated, but it’s all good.  Get over to the Professor’s Bandcamp now, you won’t regret it.  And catch him live if you can!

B-52s – Planet Claire

Next up in my musical feast was a fine little song from those lovable, quirky scamps the B-52s.  “Planet Claire” is a perfect slice of sci-fi flavoured rock’n’roll, straight out of a B-movie and into your brain like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  I love it.  This version is from the B side of the “Rock Lobster” 12″ single, which I was lucky enough to pick up at a record fair not long ago.

Thee Hypnotics – Come Down Heavy

In the late 80’s/early 90’s, just before Nirvana changed the world with “Nevermind”, I had discovered the Stooges via punk rock bands like the Damned and the Sex Pistols.  At the same time, there were bands coming out of the USA – such as Mudhoney – that utilised a very Stooges-like sound: fuzzed up guitars, wah wah pedals and so on.  Thee Hypnotics were a British garage band that followed a similar blueprint.  Though largely forgotten about now, they’re a fantastic historical anomaly and pre-cursor to the alt rock explosion of the early 90’s.  “Come Down Heavy” is from the album of the same name.  It seemed very popular on the night – highly recommended.

Iggy Pop – Cold Metal

I bought the Thee Hypnotics album from a Connah’s Quay record fair around 1990.  I also picked up Iggy Pop’s “Instinct” album at the same fair, as I’d heard the track “Cold Metal” on a Sounds sampler EP that a friend gave me.  I love – and still love – the amazing guitar riff.  I was instantly smitten; not just the riff but the incredible gritty yet finely produced guitar tone – courtesy of the one and only Steve Jones.  “Instinct” is a superb album – Iggy’s explored lots of sounds, but I do like it when he rocks out unashamedly.  A highlight of a varied and inspirational career.

And that was the end of the set – hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!  Looking forward to the next Bring Your Own Vinyl Night – it can never come too 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.

Melvins – Gig Review

Melvins + Big Business

Friday 9th October 2015

Gorilla, Manchester

I had been waiting for this for a long time.  As a long time fan of the Melvins, it seems inexplicable that I’ve never seen them live before.  But then I rarely travel to Manchester for gigs.  2015 has been the year of live music for Platinum Al; as such the planets aligned, the tickets were bought, the wheels were rolling towards the big city and it was on.  Finally, I would witness the wonder of the Melvins.

And not just the Melvins – the support slot went to Big Business, a two piece of bass and drums in a similar mould to the mighty headliners.  Of course, anyone who knows their Black Flag from their Black Sabbath will tell you that Jared and Coady of this band also perform with Buzz and Dale to create the steaming sonic soup with lumpy riff croutons that is the Melvins. Melvins

The Big Business set was extremely impressive in it’s own right.  As I said, the band is just bass and drums, yet the almighty noise they make is astounding for a two piece.  They play a solid set that could’ve been a main course of the evening’s entertainment.  Big grooves, pounding drums and awesome sound scapes create a fine appetiser.

Gorilla in Manchester is some sort of restaurant/bar thing, with a stage at the back for live shows.  It’s seems more in scale with stand up comedy gigs, but despite the modest size it’s a great place to see the band – close up, good views and sound.  The beer is a bit expensive, but I got a Melvins (official!) t-shirt for a tenner!  Yeah!!!

So anyway, the Melvins arrive on stage as a four piece – Buzz, Dale, Jared and Coady – and we’re off.  It’s a gig unlike any I’ve experienced ever before.  There’s no breaks; no chat with the audience; no introducing the songs – the band just plough through their catalogue of fantastic songs and drag the audience along with them.  The audience follow willingly, of course – and the band don’t ignore us – it’s a unique unspoken agreement that we’re all along for a hell of a musical journey.

The music is heavy, sludgy, intense – exactly what I expected and wanted.  There are several songs from newer albums (“The Water Glass”, “Evil New War God” – both superb).  Older classics like “Sweet Willy Rollbar” and “It’s Shoved” are given a welcome play too.  The absolute high light for me though is “Civilised Worm” – what a riff!

The power of the riff is what the Melvins are all about.  Buzz’s guitar is astoundingly heavy, yet also shines with artistic flourishes and strange sounds to keep the listener guessing.  The bass is relentless yet groovy, hammering home the riffs.  Add dual drummers and ears were ringing for days.

It was a truly intense live experience and one I’m really glad I saw.  Unlike anything else and worthy of the hype, the Melvins are a unique band and I love them.

Did I mention I got a t-shirt for a tenner??!!

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #2

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 29th May 2015

OK, you know the drill – it’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head pub in Mold.  It’s the same great deal as last time – everyone gets a fifteen minute slot to play whatever they want, as long as it’s vinyl.  Old or new, obvious or strange – any genre you like, bring along those wax platters and give them a spin.

As previous, it was a welcoming atmosphere in the pub, and it was great to hear the music played.  There’s always some old favourites, as well as a few that make you scratch your head, then go away determined to explore that sound more.

We missed the last Vinyl Night, the gang and me, but this time we came fully stocked and prepared.  So after a few beers, here’s what my set-list looked like:

Nirvana – Do You Love Me

This is a cover by the Seattle Grunge mega lords of a KISS tune, found on the Hard to Believe tribute album.  This record featured several then-underground, independent punk rock groups covering KISS songs.  Also on this disc you’ll hear such bands as the Melvins, All and the Hard-Ons (I love ’em all) – but it’s Kurt Cobain’s crew that are the novelty factor here.  Pre-dating Nevermind, this isn’t the best Nirvana song (not by a long way) but it’s kinda cool to hear them cover some classic glam rock.  I picked this up fairly recently at a Manchester jumble sale; I played it ‘cos it’s rare (apparently) and unexpected (very).

Butthole Surfers – The Wooden Song

No, I didn’t play this song because of the shock/comedy nature of the band’s name.  I played because the album Independent Worm Saloon, which birthed this tune, is a work of under-appreciated genius.  The album roams from full-on punk noise; to psychedelic eruptions; to folky, melodious charm.  The Wooden Song   fits in the last category, with a nice added dose of weird.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice

Taken from the Smash Hits album which I picked up on reissue around 1990.  This song was always a favourite, I chose to play it as it’s a different (and better) mix than the one found on the South Saturn Delta CD.  I love how the song’s funky little riff rolls on, as Jimi’s voice and a wall of guitar noise threaten to throw the whole thing overboard.  Beautiful chaos.

Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan

This is one of my late at night, chill-out jams.  You can find this track on Paranoid.  I chose it to showcase just how great Black Sabbath were, the variety and depth of composition going far beyond what the trendy elite give them credit for.  A mellow jazz trip into outer space, this song elegantly portrays the grandeur of the mighty Sabbath.  ALL HAIL SABBATH.

So that was it from me.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, hope others liked it too.  I was more confident this time with the turntables and felt that the whole experience was a step up from my previous effort.

Next up was Adam, with some gems from his ever expanding vinyl collection.  It was Adam’s first tenure on the decks, he mastered it like a pro:

  • Guns’n’Roses – Bad Obsession
  • Prodigy – Poison
  • Beach Boys – God Only Knows

The final member of our crew was Ben the Swede, who travelled from far off Chester with his lady Janice to play some vinyl.  Ben went for a Ritchie Blackmore theme with his choices, and damn fine they were:

  • Rainbow – Jealous Lover
  • Glen Hughes and Chad Smith – Maybe I’m a Leo
  • Deep Purple – You Can’t Do It Right By The One You Love

Thank you and good night – till the next Bring Your Own Vinyl Night!

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

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is herevinyl3

Saltwater Injection Single Release

Saltwater Injection 

“Vinegar”/”Cuntryfile” (Antipop Records)

 

The new single from Saltwater Injection, “Vinegar”/”Cuntryfile”, succeeds in capturing their live ferocity and innate ability to smuggle a tune in with the noise. Like Henry Rollins wrestling an angry grizzly bear – for a laugh – this two-piece hurl out lead track “Vinegar” and drag, rather than invite, the audience along. Pounding, dirty bass; vicious drums and urgent vocals give the listener a couple of minutes of aggression that you can’t help but nod along to.

There is a school of thought that says times of austerity and right wing governments create the ideal environment for the best anti-establishment punk rock. Saltwater Injection’s “Cuntryfile” certainly upholds that premise. Just over a minutes worth of furious, filthy mouthed fun – this tune is ridiculously infectious. I defy you to not sing along!

For fans of Black Flag, the Melvins, and 1980’s cross over punk-thrash who also like a bit of tuneful Nirvana in their musical diet.

Out 30.03.2015

Available from iTunes, Amazon and Spotify 

http://www.saltwater-injection.com

saltwaterinjection@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saltwater-Injection/134989273346640

https://soundcloud.com/saltwaterinjection

https://twitter.com/SaltWaterInject SWI1