It had been a good 18 months since I last attended a gig, and leaving the house to join a throng of fans enjoying live music seemed like a very strange proposition. I’d actually forgotten all about the concert, as tickets had been booked long before lockdown. Heading up to the Tiv was both exciting and, if I’m honest, a little unnerving.
On entering the venue, it was just like old times: a great vibe as the crowd drank and awaited the bands. As life was getting back to normal, the Goths had crept from the shadows near and far, ready to witness Fields of the Nephilim.
The support band, The Faces of Sarah, were already attempting to breathe life into the evening. Unfortunately, and unusually for the Tiv, they could hardly be heard. I wasn’t too far away, but could barely make out the sound of the instruments. The guitarist looked to be going for it, throwing shapes like a crazed gibbon, but to no avail. The dual lead vocals were extremely impressive, however the poor sound made them come across like an AOR outfit.
Had my old copy of the Usborne Book of Goths been on my person, I could’ve ticked off several obvious dark rock tropes from the moment Fields of the Nephilim took the stage. There was so much dry ice the band could barely be seen, just a group of grey silhouettes in dusty cowboy hats. They begin in true over the top, cinematic style with “The Harmonica Man”. Atmosphere is poured on with no restraint.
And that’s exactly what I paid my money for: I wanted the full experience without any subtlety, and by God, that’s what the audience got.
FOTN erupted into “Preacher Man” and we all loved it. There’s no onstage frontman/audience banter (till the very end) and that, again, is just how I expected it. The songs bounce along like little Goth demons knowing Halloween isn’t far away.
“Moonchild” was an obvious highlight, with its slow, moody intro leading into the searing guitar and rumbling bass. The whole set is all treat, no tricks – I got the feeling that this is exactly how FOTN would’ve performed 30 years ago. The whole set is absolutely note perfect and full of every excess that the audience could devour.
I’d also forgotten how much I enjoy live music. This evening was a fantastic reminder of what we’ve been missing – can’t wait for more.
“Who the fuck is Wax Mekanix?” You may well ask. Who is this enigmatic troubadour, this mysterious master musician, who has concocted this art for us to absorb? Well, I’m not sure I can answer those questions, but I have done some research. A bit late, I know, as this album was first released back in November. But hey, I can’t be cutting edge all of the time. Sometimes a scribe such as I must admit that changes of seismic consequence occur without my usual omniscient vision. Hard to believe, I know.
And yet here we are. Six tracks of exploration and wonder that plough a beguiling path through musical genres, from classic hard rock to folky musings, with an added sprinkle of the unexpected and alternative.
If you want big full-on metal with groove, you’ll find it with “Blood in my eyes”. Huge chants and choruses? Try the gladiatorial detonation of “Victorious”, where you’ll also witness Brandon Yeagley and Chris Bishop of the very awesome Crobot playing the funky, infectious riffs that they’re famed for.
Wax himself is something of a renaissance man: writing, singing and playing on all tracks. Possessing a voice that can change from a warm country croon to a caramel Maynard James Keenan earnestness to a classic Alice Cooper roar, Wax morphs easily from one to another. He’s like Mike Patton with a folk fixation, but dressed even more dapper.
“Mad World” is one of my favourite tracks here, starting off with some Mexican guitars before erupting in a NWOBHM stampede that also recalls The Crue at their pop metal best.
The absolute highlight, though, is the final track “Black”. This song is all eerie acoustic guitar and minimal percussion, with a catchy melody that creates something hypnotic and other worldly. Despite also reminding me of Johnny Nice Painter form the Fast Show (do a Google) on the chorus, this song exudes atmosphere.
Although the album is a little short, there’s plenty to investigate. Listeners will be rewarded with additional revelations each time they delve into it.
When I first heard Mobocracy, I rated it as good. After a couple of listens, I’ve upgraded it to GREAT. A welcome amalgamation of styles and influences, as well as exemplary song writing and musicianship, don’t let the endeavours of Wax Mekanix pass you by. Who is Wax Mekanix? The real question should be: “What’s next?”
Speaking of wax, did I ever tell you about that time when Ozzy and me decided to do a séance with some candles he pilfered from some hippies? That did not end well. There’s a little B&B in Carlisle that still has scorch marks up the walls. Tony was not impressed in the slightest. And I still have a phobia of barbecues to this day.
Outside, the nights are starting to get lighter and Spring is on its merry way. The birds chirp merrily and warmth is returning to the land. Which is completely inappropriate for a review of the new album by Bloody Hammers, “Songs of Unspeakable Terror”. It should be Halloween instead: gloomy and dark with the bizarre and uncanny just outside your door.
Anders Manga (vocals, guitars, bass) and Devallia (keyboards/organ) are the Morticia and Gomez husband and wife team behind Bloody Hammers, a metal/rock/goth creation based in Transylvania County, North Carolina. How’s that for an address? Bet Glenn Danzig’s crying into his Count Chocula cereal.
On this opus, Lily and Herman have left behind their previous established sound of Alice Cooper-style hard rock, crunchy metal and Sisters of Mercy atmos. Entombed alive due to the pandemic, Bloody Hammers have exhumed the bloody corpse of horror punk, in a temporary tribute to the genre.
And it’s huge fun! Fast and furious tracks like “Night to Dismember” and “Waking the Dead” rocket from the crypt like the hounds of hell are on their tail. Huge “whoah-oh” Misfits choruses are of course present and correct. Rousing and energetic, these songs are obvious but loving celebrations of influences that have only been hinted at on previous albums.
There’s macabre melody on “We Are the Damned”, with a choir vocal effect to help power the camp horror feel. “Hands of the Ripper” and “Not of This Earth” are slower, more metal sounding with a grinding riff.
Little of the occasional Andrew Eldritch explorations exist on “Songs of Unspeakable Terror”, though “Lucifers Light” unites guitar and keys into a moody Danzig like ballad. A little more of this approach would still have fitted perfectly however. I don’t know if Devallia can sing, but if she can this was a missed opportunity.
The listener never feels too far removed from the original Bloody Hammers style, however. Likewise this isn’t a simple, derivative rip-off of “Walk Among Us”, even though “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” is a nice radioactive “Hatebreeders” mutation. But whereas the Misfits took their inspiration from monochrome B-movies, Bloody Hammers have changed gears to a Kensington gore-drenched 60’s Technicolor horror fest.
“Songs of Unspeakable Terror” is an album of pure enjoyment, which is just what we need right now. With song titles taken directly from classic Hammer/Amicus movies, a warm rediscovery of horror punk style and some familiar Bloody Hammers rock, you can’t go wrong. Go dig out your Halloween fancy dress, find your “Plan 9 From Outer Space” VHS cassette and get ready for a ghouls night in!
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!
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…
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.
Another album review that appeared not too long ago on EVER METAL – now catching up on my site:
The Electric Mud – Burn the Ships
Self Released (Dewar PR)
Release date: 23/08/2019
Running time: 38 minutes
Review by: Alun Jones
Let’s get the important stuff covered off first. For any of you who thought this band were something to do with that lot from the seventies who sang “Tiger Feet”, you’re wrong. The Electric Mud have very little in common with their glam rock similar-name sakes. Of course, a professional such as myself would never make a mistake like that.
The Electric Mud hail from Fort Myers, Florida – and specialise in a making a steaming hot gumbo of stoner rock and dense, swampy blues.
“Burn the Ships” is the Electric Mud’s second album. Through the course of seven songs, the listener travels from the sweltering everglades through time and space – as vintage sounds melt with modern.
Opening track “Call the Judge” oozes an irresistible Southern rock’n’roll groove, starting proceedings with a triumphant swagger. Grab a beer and a whiskey chaser, you know it’s going to be a lively night in the Roadhouse.
The Electric Mud show their stoner credentials on tracks like “Priestess”, which melds inventive riffs with pace and dynamics. “Good Monster” weaves funky, head bobbing grooves and “Reptile” lunges out of the depths, attacking like a gator whose mother’s been made into a pair of shoes.
There’s some stunning musicianship on display here; the guitars of Constantine Grim and Pete Kolter are crunchy yet nimble when required. Tommy Scott’s bass rumbles and glides perfectly. Pierson Whicker’s drums can smash and bang yet can be refined when necessary. Kolter’s voice, smoky yet soulful, is an addictive asset in itself.
Songs range from rocking brawlers to heartfelt blues with awesome proficiency. “Black Wool” and “Terrestrial Birds” showcase these slower moments really well, allowing the music to breathe and worm its way under your skin.
The variety of sound – together with the confident delivery and clever song writing – is what makes “Burn the Ships” engaging and successful. In the best tradition of stoner rock, The Electric Mud can combine old and new, fast and smooth, dirty and graceful. Their Southern charm, marinated in the blues, give this band their unique identity.
Although it feels maybe one song too short, “Burn the Ships” is full of character and demands repeat listens.
By the way, I used to see quite a bit of Mud – and lots of other glam rock bands – in the early seventies. Mud used to take a paddling pool everywhere with them, to do some backstage mud wrestling. Hence the name, you see? Though it never worked. Not once did they persuade lovely dance troupe Pan’s People to get involved. Or Suzi Quatro. It usually just ended with the band in the mud bath, drunk on Babycham and fighting with Slade.