Duel – Album Review

Duel – In Carne Persona

Heavy Psych Sounds (Purple Sage PR)

Release date: 01/10/2021

Running Time: 39 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Wait, it can’t be time for a new Duel album, surely?  It only seems like yesterday that I reviewed their last work for Ever Metal.  Time flies when you’re having fun, eh?  Well, that last album “Valley of Shadows”, also from Heavy Psych Sounds, was released back in 2019 – so yes, it’s time for more Duel.  My cryo-freeze unit must have kept me out of trouble for longer than I thought.

Austin, Texas is where they came from, though Duel’s real home is good ol’ heavy metal and greasy hard rock.  Whereas with the previous record review, I made comparisons to stoner rock and 70’s proto metal, this time around, “In Carne Persona” has a much more trad metal approach.  Thundering out of the gates on the very first track, “Children of the Fire” has a galloping, early Maiden sound. 

The NWOBHM influence rages throughout the album, with some classic Sabbath heaviness and Thin Lizzy style melody for good measure.  Second track “The Veil” illustrates both sides of those 70s references with a pounding riff and laser sharp solo.

Tracks like “Anchor” and “Bite Back” take the intensity of Trouble or Saint Vitus and ramp up the pace with a ferocious Priest-like power.  “Lizard Tongue” delivers the boogie, whilst final track “Blood on the Claw” provides an epic finish to the proceedings.  Bringing the album to a huge and satisfying conclusion; it builds slowly, contrasting heavy chugging sections with refrained passages.

Superb bombastic vocals crown masterful musicianship that evokes the past masters, making “In Carne Persona” another triumphant album from Duel.  Throughout it all, Duel create a dark and brooding atmosphere, that effectively stamps their own authenticity on the old template.  Dark but never grim, it’s always exciting.

I remember a duel of sorts in my days with Purple.  One night whilst on tour somewhere, we decided to have a game of beer Russian roulette.  Thirty cans of lager on the table, one had been shaken up by yours truly and placed randomly back amongst the others.  Participants would then open one can at a time next to their ear; one unlucky player would obviously suffer the frothy consequences.

Gillan, Lord and Blackmore all started well – springing open cans next to their heads which didn’t explode, so they could drink them down.  Eventually, and inevitably, it was Ritchie who took the shaken beer to the head, he was soaked and screamed petulantly at Gillan, blaming the singer for his misfortune.  It wasn’t like he didn’t know what to expect!  Blackmore stormed off leaving the rest of us in hysterics.  What was really funny was, when Ritchie wasn’t looking, I’d switched cans on him with another frothed up bullet.  Ha!

Check out Duel on Facebook, Bandcamp and Spotify.

Heavy Psych Sounds are cool and you should check them out here. Plus, they have Facebook, Bandcamp and YouTube.

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

1968 – Album Review

1968 – Salvation, If You Need…

Self-released & No Profit Recordings

Release date: 20/04/2021

Running time: 44 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

For this review of “Salvation, If You Need…”, the second album from UK stoner rock titans 1968, I promise that there will be no messing about, no silly stories, no nonsense whatsoever.  I’m not even drinking.  Rather, I will endeavour to write a serious review that treats this album with the respect it deserves.  Not enough respect to get the article written on schedule, mind; but hey – I never said I was perfect.

Anyone familiar with 1968 from their previous efforts will not be disappointed to learn that the band’s strengths are in full flow here.  Thankfully, they’ve also pushed boundaries and explored their psychedelic tendencies further than ever before.  Witness opening track “Railroad Boogie”, which teases a funky Blaxploitation groove before unleashing the glorious big riff sound that we expect.

Comparing 1968 to Kyuss is far too obvious and lazy.  Jimi Ray’s voice has some of that gruff John Garcia sound (with a little later-period TSOL vocalist Joe Wood), though his vocals have matured to a sincere, soulful timbre.  See also, guitarist Sam Orr: schooled in Sabbath riffology and Lizzy attitude, here his Hendrix aspirations are allowed to fly unrestrained.  Magnificent washes of sound cascade and add colour everywhere, without being obtrusive.

“Blackwing” is the highlight for me: a refrain that’ll slip into your ears and lodge there.  It’s pointless trying to remove it.  Whether happy accident or hard slog, this is an epic riff.  “Eastern Wind” follows a similar path, but offers enough of its own controlled chaos to stand on its own two feet. 

Tom Richards’ bass warms up “Here It Lies” and expertly keeps the vibe dialled on a grungy, early Soundgarden pace.  The raw, unrefined blues of “Small Victories” and “God Bless” also allow drummer Dan Amati to show he can play refined and delicate, as well as thundering and determined.    

Yes, 1968 are undoubtedly still inspired by the classic rock of the late 60s/early 70’s, but we’re also drinking beers in Satan’s Dive Bar, somewhere in Seattle, with a jukebox that’s stuck on Badmotorfinger.  And some Budgie, too, based on the solid cover of that band’s “Guts” that shows up here.   

Look, I’ve tried to be serious for once, and I hope you appreciate it, reader.  “Salvation, If You Need…” is a truly magnificent piece of work.  I’ve been playing it for ages and it hasn’t aged.  I’m still discovering little delights everywhere.  It has scale and pace that other bands don’t dare trifle with.  A contender for Album of the Year, so long as I can get hold of the imminent vinyl release.

Now, who wants to hear about the time Ozzy, Belinda Carlisle and me gate-crashed Venom’s Satanic picnic?

I lied about not drinking, by the way.     

You can find 1968 on Bandcamp, and also follow their social media adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This Platinum Al review has been produced with the aid of 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.

Black Sabbath – The End

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Black Sabbath + Rival Sons

Saturday 4th February 2017

Genting Arena Birmingham

The mighty Black Sabbath.  They created down tuned, dirty, doom laden heavy metal aeons ago.  Wrote songs that defined an entire genre and inspired millions of people.  Lived the rock’n’roll lifestyle to legendary excess, managing to survive through some miraculous method or other.  Black Sabbath are musical titans.

And this was The End – their last ever gig.  At least as far as we know at this point in time, and taking into consideration the band members current situations.

This was The End – Black Sabbath’s last live performance, ever – in their home city of Birmingham.

Through a result of pure luck I was able to blag myself on a trip to witness the event.  Sabbath are one of those bands that I’ve long been obsessed with, going on nearly thirty years now.  They’ve created fantastic albums that I’ve listened to again and again, so it was great to be able to catch this gig, before it was all over.

The support band were Rival Sons, a younger band that’s regarded very positively by fans and press alike.  I’m only familiar with one album or so worth of songs, but can safely say that they put on a very impressive performance.  Their music is rooted in the classic rock of yore, so it was an apt choice to support.  I didn’t recognise any of the material, but then Rival Sons are a band that definitely require some homework on my part.

A confident and popular support act, Rival Sons coped with the huge arena well.  They merit further investigation – I’m sure that classic song to get me hooked is tucked away on an album somewhere.

And so to the headliners, the incredible but sadly not immortal, Black Sabbath.  Of course they opened with the legendary “Black Sabbath” – what else? – the eerie three note, devil’s tritone that heralded the birth of metal years since.  A perfect start to the evening, Black Sabbath then proceeded to entertain with two hours of solid classics.

From my vantage point, standing in the massive arena hall near the sound desk, I couldn’t see great deal.  In fact, I could see more of Kelly and Sharon Osbourne, in the nearby VIP area,  than I could of Ozzy.  The sound however was superb and the set loaded with classics.  Plus I don’t think Ozzy (or Tony or Geezer) did much running around the stage anyway. bs1

Most of the songs were from the first four albums, which was cool by me.  Highlights were “Into the Void”, “Snowblind”, “Children of the Grave” and an unexpected showing of “Hand of Doom”.  Brilliant bass from Geezer Butler on “N.I.B.” too.

My absolute favourite Sabbath track, “Supernaut”, was unfortunately relegated to being sandwiched in as part of a medley (along with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, another fave) – and therefore sadly under exposed.  A shame that, I went mental when the opening riff started.  No “Sweet Leaf” either.

“Supernaut” should have been in the set, certainly it was preferable to “Dirty Women” which was hauled out of the cellar and into the light one more time.  Although not their best material, this song did give Tony Iommi a chance to shine, the final guitar solo was absolutely explosive.

There were sadly no extra special moments, such as famous guests getting up to join in – maybe that would’ve diluted the spotlight on Sabbath.  It was nice to let them have their final moment of glory.  I think we were all hoping Bill Ward would make an appearance behind the drum kit for one last time though.

And finally, it was all over – with one last rendition of the genius song that is “Paranoid”.

Their final  gig was set to be emotional, set in their hometown for one last time.  In fact it was a hugely uplifting experience, rather than sombre – hundreds of the faithful showing their respect for all the music we love.  Not just Sabbath, but every metal band that’s followed in their sepulchral wake.

Black Sabbath – their legacy lives on.  They are the ultimate metal band and they leave us with a back catalogue beyond compare.  It’s never really The End.

The full setlist is here.