Here Lies Man – Album Review

Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination

RidingEasy Records (Us/Them Group)

Release date: 22/01/2021

Running time: 61 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

OK: we have something very interesting here.  Something quite special.  Apparently, this is the fourth album from Here Lies Man, so I’ve got some catching up to do.  The bands unique selling point is their amalgamation of Black Sabbath with Afrobeat, and it’s a refreshing interpretation of a genre that continues to morph and bewitch the listener.

On this release, founding members Marcos Garcia (vocals/guitar) and Geoff Mann (drums) are joined by Doug Organ on keyboards and JP Maramba on bass.  Here Lies Man devoutly worship the riff in full-on Iommi style, but they’re piloting their space vessel on an exploratory course into previously uncharted galaxies.

Yes, there are chunky, heavy guitar riffs galore – but with a stroke of mad scientist genius the rhythms power the engine with a new force.  Tracks like “I Wander”, “Night Comes” and album highlight “Can’t Kill It” don’t just rock, they don’t just groove: there’s something – dare I say it – danceable in the songs on Ritual Divination.  So much so, that I might just have to go and shake my not inconsiderable booty right now.

There.  That’s better.  Just had to groove on out there, people – but I’m back now.  Here Lies Man have crafted something very infectious.  Snippets of 70s style heavy rock (“Collector of Vanities”), dizzy space rock (“In These Dreams”) and incessant beats (everywhere) create something that’s heavy AND fun.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the album feels slightly too long.  All this inventiveness is sometimes hard to keep up with, despite its addictive nature.  Over time, however, I’m guessing the additional length of the recording will probably deliver greater rewards.   

Ritual Divination by Here Lies Man: boldly rocking where no one has rocked before.

My old mates in Black Sabbath used to enjoy going off in random directions, too (usually because of the, er… substances).  One time, Bill Ward decided to play yet another prank on diminutive vocal god Ronnie James Dio by taking an axe to all the furniture in Ron’s hotel room and hacking off eight inches from the bottom of everything, to make it all smaller.  Chair legs, table legs, bed – the lot.  Moved the pictures – and the mirror on the wall – lower down by a foot, etc etc.

When Ronnie arrived, not only did he not get the joke, he really didn’t get the joke at all.  He thought it was a special room for the vertically challenged, congratulated the Hotel Manager and gave me a big cash bonus for booking him such a fabulous room.  Cheers, Bill!

Check out Here Lies Man website, on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Visit RidingEasy Records website and on Bandcamp.

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

Dayglo Mourning – Album Review

Dayglo Mourning – Dead Star

Black Doomba Records (Dewar PR)

Release date: 12/02/2021

Running time: 35 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

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?

Check out Dayglo Mourning on Facebook, Bandcamp and Twitter.

Visit the Black Doomba Records website, or find them on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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

Misty Grey – Album Review

Misty Grey – Chapter II

Interstellar Smoke Records

Release date: 20 November 2020

Running time: 39 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

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.  

Check out Misty Grey on: Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and YouTube.

This has been a Platinum Review for Ever Metal.

Son of Boar – Album Review

Son of Boar – Son of Boar

Stoned Rocka Records

Release date: 02/04/2021

Running time: 32 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

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…

Check out Son of Boar on Bandcmap, Facebook and YouTube.

You can also find them on Twitter and Instagram as: @son_of_boar

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al, in association with the mighty Ever Metal.

The Gates of Slumber – Album Review

The Gates of Slumber – Live at Tempe Arizona

Self-Released (Against PR)

Release date: 28/02/2020

Running time: 37 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Right then, who’s up for some big, fat riffs played at a crawling, slow pace?  You know I am.  Never more ready.  So let’s plunge in and have a listen of this live opus from The Gates of Slumber!  I can promise you that TGOS not only have one of the best band names ever invented – they also do magnificently heavy, Sabbath influenced doom.

This gig was recorded live at the Clubhouse, in Tempe, Arizona – back in 2011, supporting the mighty Orange Goblin.  You can almost feel the heat and smell the beer at the venue on this recording.

Starting out with “Bastards Born”, the riff is slow and menacing, with mournful vocals.  Second track “Ice Worm” ups the tempo a little, with a chugging groove.  The highlight of the album is possibly the gloomy “Day of Farwell”, which is allowed to breathe and sprawl, featuring some spellbinding guitar.  “Coven of Cain” rocks out, before the band slow down to a monolithic pace for “The Wretch”.  Moving those stones from South Wales to Salisbury to create Stonehenge was probably faster.  Finally, the band are at their most Sabbath with the crunching “The Jury”.

Audience reaction is very low in the mix, and the sound is very clear, with no studio or soundboard trickery.  What the listener is left with is a very honest representation of Gates of Slumber – those guitars and drums are free to go straight for the jugular.  It might not be the sort of album that will blow the mind of the casual listener, but for anyone who’s schooled in the melancholy beauty of Saint Vitus and The Obsessed, this is a short but sweet treat.

Will that do for the review, guys?  I’m knackered myself after last night.  I wasn’t partying with Ozzy and Slash again, honest.  I was up all night with Brian May, going on about his bloody astronomy.  “Really Brian?  That is fascinating.  You don’t say?  Yawn.”  Didn’t get a wink of sleep.

You can check out The Gates of Slumber on Bandcamp, Spotify and YouTube.

Also, witness their social media mastery on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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

The Brothers Keg – Album Review

The Brothers Keg – Folklore, Myths and Legends of the Brothers Keg

APF Records

Release date: 11/09/2020

Running time: 44 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

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.     

Check out The Brothers Keg on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

And have a look at APF records website while you’re at it.

Finally, whatever you do, don’t forget to visit Ever Metal for more awesome news and reviews!

Weed Demon – Crater Maker Album Review

Weed Demon – Crater Maker

Electric Valley Records

Release date: 03/04/2020

Running time: 46 minutes

Review by: 9/10

 

“Crater Maker”, by Columbus Ohio rascals Weed Demon, begins with the warm and welcoming hiss and crackle of vinyl.  Then we’re into the first track “Atmospheric Drag”, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re in the wrong section of the record shop.  It’s a dark, folky country number that sounds like you’ve just stumbled into a saloon in a God forsaken Western town.  I was taken by surprise, but this song is both awesome and a fitting introduction to an album that isn’t afraid to wander off the obvious path.

When track two, “Birthquake” lumbers in, we’re in familiar doomy Sabbath territory.  It’s a stark contrast to the opening song, but brilliant as that was, this is what we came for.  Big, dirty riffage that’s slow yet powerful, the result is an instrumental song that relies purely on dynamics to excite and uplift.  This is bloody great stuff.

The next track, “Serpent Merchant”, is even heavier and more relentless – with growling vocals making a demonic appearance.  It all descends into a masterful, psychedelic break before the pummelling returns.  The album’s title track delivers a groove laden sludge, which again dissolves into a mellow passage at pretty much exactly the halfway mark.  Gradually becoming fuzzier, this soon explodes into a frenzied, aggressive section.

The remaining tracks offer more crunching guitars, thudding bass, booming vocals and pounding rhythms, always concentrating on the all-important doom riff.  Final track “Sporelord” wanders through several segments, before briefly fading away and returning with a quirky reggae style outro.

With four of the six songs here over the 8 minute mark, there’s a lot to explore and digest with “Crater Maker”.  Weed Demon have created a dense album that I enjoyed from the first listen and I’m still returning to weeks later.  Meandering into psychedelic space rock, groovy doom, country and ear-splitting sludge ensures “Crater Maker” is a complex release that’s worth hearing.

All this talk of weeds reminds me of a funny little escapade with my old mate Keith Moon.  Moony lived next door to his big pal Ollie Reed, who asked the loony drummer to keep an eye on his mansion while he was in Europe, filming some naff horror/arthouse nonsense.  Moon had a party, got totally blitzed and remembered at about 4am that he hadn’t mowed Ollie’s lawn for him.  Well, you can imagine the laughs we had, as Keith tried to start the ride-on petrol mower in the dark.  Without going into too much detail, a split fuel pipe and a discarded cigarette resulted in most of Reed’s garden looking like it had been napalmed.

Ollie wasn’t best pleased when he returned to see the unholy mess Keith had left him with.  But Moon just blamed Ringo Starr, who made a quick exit when drunken Ollie brought out his shotgun.  Ringo had the last laugh though, by marrying the most beautiful woman in the world.  Jammy git.

Weed Demon are on Facebook and Bandcamp, plus find them on Instagram here.

Check out Electric Valley Records here.

And go have a gander at Ever Metal, tell ’em Platinum Al sent you.

Desert Storm – Omens Album Review

Time for another album review: as originally published by Ever Metal, now here for your enjoyment too…

Desert Storm – Omens

APF Records

Release date: 01/05/2020

Running time: 40 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

Put your feet up, relax – pour yourself a drink and take the weight off your feet.  All you need to do is chill – I’ve already done the hard work.  I’ve found your new favourite band: they’re called Desert Storm, and their latest album has just been released by APF records.

If you’re new to the name, Desert Storm are from merry old Oxford; and since forming in 2007, have been building their following formidably.  They’ve appeared at major rock festivals; plus supported and toured with some personal heroes of mine (Corrosion of Conformity, The Atomic Bitchwax amongst others).  I saw Desert Storm a few years ago supporting the mighty Karma to Burn; they managed to steal the show from the headliners, as far as I was concerned.

Opening with a sombre, haunting spoken word piece, Omens proceeds to take the listener on a journey that is powerful, yet also introspective.  It’s an otherworldly trip that’s both visceral and immediate, but also demands greater exploration.

“Black Bile” demonstrates the strategy perfectly: heavy, grinding and relentless – with moments of melody that blend into the whole without jarring.  In absolute basics, this is the sludge of Down combined with the aspirational progressiveness of Mastodon.  Thudding, head banging riffs adorn “Vengeful Gods”, but there’s also an almost Morricone-like cinematic sensation as the song develops and grows.

At times anthemic, there are also magnificently effective sections of the songs that contrast beautifully with the hard driving doom metal.  “Pain, Grief and Suffering” features an extended mid-section that is beguilingly serene.  When the heavy re-enters, it’s all the more neck-breakingly persuasive.  Throw in a captivating solo and you’re on to a highlight.

“The Path of Most Resistance” builds from humble beginnings to a massive groove riff of Sabbathian splendour; whilst “Lockjaw” is short and brutal.  This leads us to the final track, “Rebirth”: a masterpiece that is heavy only in sentiment.  What a song.  Despite a medieval vibe, it’s the ideal soundtrack to spin whilst driving through the desert in a stolen Dodge Challenger as the sun sets, with Smokey on your tail.

Every song on Omens can be enjoyed on its own merits, but as a whole plays as a genuine compendium that the listener can enjoy from start to finish.  I knew Desert Storm were good, but I didn’t expect them to have grown so much.  Or deliver a new album with so much scope.  Here’s a British band that could step up into national – and then international – consciousness.  They just need your support.  Do it.  I’m off to buy the vinyl version.

Talking about deserts – did I tell you about that infamous escapade on one of my legendary soul-searching soirees into the Mojave?  I crept into my usual cave to seek shelter, only to encounter Jim bloody Morrison hogging it.   He was out of his gourd on peyote and mumbling about Aldous Huxley or some such.  There was no way I could meditate with that loon around, so I threw him out.  Break through that to the other side, Jimbo!  My Yaqui shaman and I needed the space to contact Atlantis.

STOP PRESS: Putting my money where my mouth is, I stumped up hard earned cash for a vinyl copy of this album.  I am very glad that I did!

Find Desert Storm on Facebook.

Buy their stuff on Bandcamp.

Find the band on Twitter and Instagram.

For APF records, check out their expertly crafted website here.

Ir find them on Facebook and Bandcamp, you won;t regret it.

Dozer Album Reviews

Not one, but three album reviews for you this week: Re-released by Heavy Psych Sounds, these three albums from Dozer are back and bouncing.  Here’s my review, as it originally appeared on Ever Metal and now here for your perusal:

Dozer – In the Tail of a Comet/Madre de Dios/Call it Conspiracy

Heavy Psych Sounds

Release date: 13/03/2020, 20/03/2020

Running time: 38 mins, 40 mins, 56 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10, 9/10, 9.5/10

Don’t you just love it when you find a new band to obsess about?  Music so awesome, so perfect that it just lights up your life.  Well, Dozer have filled that gap in my existence recently – I can’t believe how I endured without them before.  Though these three albums are all reissues from the early part of the 21st century, so fuck knows what I’ve been up to for the last 20 years.  Seriously, what was I doing back then that meant I missed out on this?

Hailing from the wonderful land of Sweden, a place which must have some kind of genetic master code for musical excellence, Dozer are a mighty stoner rock collective delivering heavy, intense and groove laden tunes.  I don’t know how or why the Swedes are so good at this – is it the long, dark winter isolation?  The never-ending day light in summer?  Agnetha Falkstog’s tight pants?  There’s something magical happening there, that’s for sure.

Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds have done the world a remarkable, philanthropic favour by re-issuing these three albums by the band.  And, praise Tony Iommi, on beautiful, sexy vinyl too.  This really is a wondrous, benevolent gift to bestow upon us.

So, what does the music sound like, you ask (at least you do if, like me, you were clueless enough to be unaware of Dozer previously)?  First album “In the Tail of a Comet” (8.5/10) erupts into beautiful, head nodding, rolling riffs from the off.  Layers of fuzzy, psychedelic invention and heavy rhythms usher us into their world.  A particular highlight is the finale, “High Roller”, where although the band take their foot off the gas a little, they create a trippy, vast soundscape to get lost in.

Nay-sayers may choose to point out Dozer’s obvious similarity to Kyuss; hell, even singer Fredrik Nordin sounds like a carbon copy John Garcia.  With their second album, “Madre de Dios” (9/10), that influence becomes less pronounced as their own creativity develops.  This second album seems more brutal, more aggressive.  It doesn’t take long, however, to reveal more textures and experiments with the formula – see “Earth Yeti”.  Album number 2 is a faster, heavier, punkier version of Dozer – yet still expanding on the desert rock template.

By the time we get to the final album of this reissued trio – the immense “Call It Conspiracy” (9.5/10) – Dozer have developed their own sound and personality yet further.  The Kyuss/FU Manchu influence is still there, but Dozer have grown into something of their own.  This album is the heaviest, most “metal” work – but still creative as it stretches those stoner boundaries into new, warped shapes.  Whether it’s full throttle rock’n’roll with lead track “The Hills Have Eyes” or groove laden head-nodder “Man Made Mountain”, there’s much to explore here.

Gushing praise, indeed: but if you, dear reader, are a fan of the crushing riffs, unrestrained groove and sonic washes of stoner/desert rock – these Dozer albums are highly recommended.  Tune in, turn on and explore these revived classics now.

Check out Dozer on Facebook.

Check out Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook and on the interweb here.

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.

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