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.
What could be better at this time of year than a bit of proper, 1970’s glam rock? Sweet never had a world conquering Crimbo hit like Slade, but they did have a ton of mega singles that are totally inextricable from the days of seventies glam. After missing the band when they played Buckley Tivoli last year, I wanted to make sure I was there this time around.
Support band The Novatines seemed like a decent hard rock proposition, however I arrived late and missed the bulk of their set. Worthwhile checking out another time though.
Andy Scott is the only remaining member from this version of Sweet’s classic line-up. He’s a local lad – well, Wrexham is just a few miles away – so it’s nice to see him and the band on near enough home ground. Andy Scott is also a bona fide rock god: his guitar playing is exceptional; the trademark high pitched backing vocals are ball-squeezingly present and correct; his banter funny and his charisma epic. He’s the real deal.
The rest of the band are a fine bunch of musicians, and together they smash out both the bubblegum pop hits and the rockier tracks. It’s this combination of pop sensibilities and rock skills that have made Sweet inspirational for generations of music fans.
Starting off with one of my absolute favourite tracks, “Action”, it’s clear that this is going to be a night of delivering the goods. The set features all the obvious gems: “Hellraiser”, “The Six Teens”, “Sweet F.A.”, “Wig Wam Bam” and “Little Willy” before closing with another personal fave, “Fox on the Run”.
Everything is performed brilliantly, and the audience clearly love every second. It’s also nice to note that I’m in the younger age range at this particular gig!
Finally, the band return for an encore of “Blockbuster” and “Ballroom Blitz” – two songs that are really no surprise, but could not be left out. No way, Jose – there’s have been a blitz at the Tivoli Ballrooms had they been omitted.
So a rare Wednesday night out at a gig for me, but well worth the effort. Some may find Sweet too lightweight in an era that gave us Alice Cooper and Bowie; I thoroughly enjoyed it. A solid band of fantastic musicians performing well loved (and under rated) songs.
This is one Sweet I’d like a second helping of. I’ve definitely got a Sweet tooth. And so on.
Listening to Hell III – the new Helligators release – and you can almost smell the Cajun cookin’ and moonshine brewing. This is greasy, crazy biker rock from the southern states. No doubt Helligators have fine-tuned their art in a roadhouse shack just off some dusty highway, the sounds of the bayou just inches away. The heat and the trees, the swamp and the…
What? They’re from where? Like Rome, Florida or something? What, actual Rome? In Italy? Oh. Well ya could’a fooled me!
Yes, Helligators are from Rome, Italy – though my first listen to this album had me thinking of something far more Corrosion of Conformity in origin. Hell III is powerful, dirty hard rock with just a hint of a stoner metal, big melodies and southern charm. But not southern USA charm, apparently…
Anyway, this third album from the band blows the doors off with the huge, raucous rampage of “Rebellion” – a great start to the album. It reeks of attitude and speeds out of the gates in a Motorhead fashion.
Following tracks “Here to Stay” and “Bleeding” apply the brakes slightly, but are just as crushingly relentless. This is big chunky guitar territory, guitars courtesy of Kamo and El Santo are head bangingly infectious and also intricate when called for.
There’s a definite change of pace with the almost bluesy “Where I Belong” – but by Jupiter, the chorus is monstrous. The skilled vocals of Simone “Dude” have a versatility that keep everything together and has class enough to avoid a parmesan power ballad stench.
Helligators are certainly stretching their creativity with this album. “The Prison (Confession Pt 1)” and “Gone (Confession Pt 2)” demonstrate an ability to develop an epic suite of music. Meanwhile, the instrumental “Bassthard Session” also shows the rhythm section – Alex (drums) and Pinna (Bass) to full effect.
But it’s the fast, super charged rock’n’roll of total bangers like “Born Again” and “Pedal to the Metal” that are the great prize here. Hard rock that’s loud and fun – Helligators came, saw and conquered all.
Did I tell you about the time I was in Italy with Ozzy, on tour in 81? I took him and the band to a restaurant after the gig for some quality Italian grub. Ozzy was off his tits and thought the spaghetti was worms, and tried to snort them. It ended with food everywhere and Ozzy pissing up the walls. I had a right job apologising to the manager and sorting everything out. Ozzy – lovely bloke; absolute liability.
Live albums, as I’ve stated before, are something of an issue for me. They should be devoured ravenously, but sometimes, like vegetable pizza, they just don’t live up to expectations.
Too often, live albums suffer with poor sound, ruining the immersive experience. Other times, they’re just a cynical cash-in to milk fans of more money, when there’s no new product to flog.
Occasionally, a live recording will deliver the goods – and even I have to admit that this album from Entombed is pretty damn impressive.
What we have here is Entombed celebrating the 25th anniversary of their classic “Clandestine” album with a performance of the work in full, from start to finish. Original members Nicke Andersson (drums), Uffe Cederlund (guitar) and Alex Hellid (guitar) are joined by Robert Andersson (vocals) and Edvin Aftonfalk (bass) – both from Morbus Chron. These five musicians recreate a mighty masterpiece which is both exciting and vital.
“Clandestine” was Entombed’s second album, and followed in the footsteps of its predecessor to help breathe life into Death Metal. With this concert performance, the sound is great – those buzzsaw guitars really attack the senses – showing the band are on top form. Audience noise is present, but not intrusive, actually helping put the record in context nicely.
The songs are still just as savage, just as brutal – serving as a fine reminder of just how great “Clandestine” was. Or is. All of the tracks are meticulously recreated, but it sounds as intended – as a tribute and celebration, not a cash in. “Left Hand Path” (from the debut album), tagged on at the end, makes the listener crave more.
Great live recordings should enable the listener to feel like they were actually there. The performance and sound must be both representative of the studio material, yet also have the power to immerse the listener in the experience. Entombed have succeeded in capturing a great performance and atmosphere with “Clandestine Live”. Fans will be rabid for this; for the uninitiated it’s well worth investigating.
Still, I can only award 8 out of 10 – because as good as this is, I can’t help wishing we had new material from Entombed to gorge on.
Fun live album fact: if you play Iron Maiden’s “Live After Death” backwards, you’ll hear Bruce Dickinson rehearsing voice-overs for Lucozade adverts. FACT!
Duel have been on my radar for quite a while. Despite hearing a few tracks via the band’s social media, I’d never sat down, ear goggles locked in place, to listen to a full album. So, I was pretty stoked to have the opportunity to review their latest album: “Valley of Shadows”, released recently by Heavy Psych Sounds.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, these four fiends are responsible for an almighty stoner doom racket; full on heavy rifferama with psychedelic and classic metal references. In case that description alone doesn’t grab you like a graveyard ghoul on the way to an unholy shindig, their whole aesthetic is tripped out in the sort of late-night, B-movie gore that’s lurid enough to make your eyes pop.
It’s like Dracula Has Risen from the Grave soundtracked by a bunch of longhair ne’er-do-wells, and that’s just how I like it.
“Black Magic Summer” opens up the proceedings with some appropriate rain-soaked sound effects, before launching into the heavy-as-a-crypt-door attack. There’s a brilliantly melodic middle section too, adding some light to the gloom.
Second track “Red Moon Forming” has a direct, driving pace that’s infectious and purposely concocted to inspire the raising of horns. “Drifting Alone” has a real classic desert rock vibe, with a cool head shaker riff.
“Strike and Disappear” comes on like the vampire Western that Tarantino needs to make. A slower, bluesy pace with a dusty feel, it’s the first taste we get of a very different – and effective – approach. It melts into a ferocious, face pummelling section that screams blood and violence.
Songs like “Tyrant on the Throne” have a classic metal, almost (gasp!) Iron Maiden feel to them. Otherwise, the sound explores more of the head-banging, smoke induced groove of bands like Trouble and The Obsessed.
But just like the best stoner metal movers and shakers, there’s always room for some ZZ Top-style boogie, which particularly comes to the fore in the final track, “The Bleeding Heart”.
As always, my sound comparisons are only meant as genuine compliments. Duel manage to create an album full of their own spirit and character, and it’s one hell of a fun ride. At turns hypnotic, fist pummelling, and sombre; “Valley of the Shadows” pulls the stake out of the stoner doom corpse and brings it back to bloody life again.
The last time I actually was involved in a duel, it was a case of duelling banjos. I was on a canoeing trip with some buddies out in the Appalachian back country. We ran into some unsavoury redkneck types, one of whom challenged me to a banjo showdown. Of course, I threw in some licks that my old mentor Jimi Hendrix had shown me, and the creepy little weirdo had no chance: I was victorious.
Unfortunately, the locals weren’t too happy and we had a bit of a run-in of sorts with ‘em later. It was all fun and games really, and we were on our way home soon enough. But I tell you: just whatever you do, don’t mention piggies to my buddy Bobby.
This review originally appeared on the Ever Metal website, please pay them a visit!