Trouble – Album Review

Trouble – One for the Road/Unplugged

Hammerheart Records

Release date: 11/02/2022

Running time: 67 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

The mighty Trouble!  A release from these titans of doom metal is always worth celebration, and this is no exception.  Back in the early 90s, this cult band were verged on the edge of a mainstream breakthrough, with two albums on the Rick Rubin helmed Def American Records (also home to Slayer, Danzig, Black Crowes and others).  Alas, it was not to be: this eternal underground favourite was to remain just that. 

“One for the Road” followed the second, self-titled Def American album, as a limited-edition European tour EP.  This re-release bundles that with a full length “unplugged” album: remastered to provide a fully upgraded compilation.

The first five songs comprise that “One for the Road” EP, with first track ‘Goin’ Home’ bursting from the speakers with exactly the kind of exciting hard rock you’d expect as a Trouble opener.  ‘Window Pain’ offers a pulsating, mid paced doom rocker, whilst ‘Requiem’ brings the tempo down further with a melancholy, gloomy metal dirge.  The Black Sabbath influence is most obvious on ‘Another Day’, whilst ‘Doom Box’ raises the tempo a little but still holds a candle to Dio era Sabs.  Some of these songs would turn up in different form on later albums, but this EP brings together an excellent capsule that fits neatly into that mid 90s period.

Back in the early/mid 90’s, “unplugged” albums were all the rage.  Like others of that era, this Trouble entry into that genre isn’t always stripped down totally to just vocals and acoustic guitar: there’s still electric guitar, drums and more to embellish the tracks were necessary.  The strings added to this second version of ‘Requiem’ are exceptionally orchestrated and serve the mood of the piece brilliantly.  That said, ‘7.00 AM’ is a remarkably restrained and beautiful song, recalling Sabbath and also Trouble worshippers Soundgarden. 

Those songs – and the other tracks comprising the “Unplugged” part of this release – offer a relaxed side of the band that explores more of their psychedelic, sixties interests (see their cover of The Yardbirds’ ‘Heartful of Soul’).  It’s a release that even my eleven-year-old daughter appreciated.  The only mis-step is the jaunty jig of ‘Smile’, which is just too jangly and nice.  Yet have no fear, the version of ‘Misery’ showcased here (released as ‘The Misery Shows’ on the eponymous Def American release) reminds us just how great this band were.   

My only major issue is the cover art.  That may seem petty when this is a review of the band’s music, but as a long-term Trouble fan, I’m considering buying the vinyl copy for my collection.  And that vile cover may well deter me from doing so.  Trouble has a great logo, but the cover squanders this with nothing other than the title, in what looks like – GASP! – Comic Sans MS!  A font that should only be used by primary school teaching assistants, it dates and also ridicules the stature of the music.  It’s a truly vile and lazy cover – seemingly thrown together by a Johnny-No-Stars work experience boy on his lunchbreak.  Awful.  Couldn’t someone have redesigned it?

I’m docking points for that, ‘cos the cover mocks all I hold holy.  Beyond that, fantastic music and a must for any Trouble fan.

RIP Eric Wagner

For more info, check out the Trouble website, their Facebook page or Bandcamp page.

Hammerheart Records also have a website, Facebook and Bandcamp.

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

White City Graves – Album Review

White City Graves – One Of Us

Self-Released (MDPR)

Release date: 20/08/2021

Running Time: 29 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

White City Graves released this album back in August, but I’m reviewing it in October.  Not because I’m a slacker, but because this album is totally appropriate for the Spookiest Month of the Year.  That’s right folks, we’ve jumped on the Horror Punk ghost train again, so buckle up and be prepared for a rollicking roll on the tracks to hell.

To be fair, there’s definitely a Misfits/Danzig influence with “One Of Us”, but White City Graves cast a wider net than just horror punk.  Aggressive as it is, and with the undoubted splash of melody from those aforementioned bands, these songs also owe a big debt to ugly metal bands like Motorhead, Venom and Mercyful Fate.

Like Tad jacked up on speed and Monster Energy whiskey cocktails, it’s furious and frightening.  We’re only one motel stop from chainsaw killers and rabid werewolf bikers – all of which makes Al rub his hands with glee.

“Bump in the Night” starts with a sample of an obscure B-movie (of course) and proceeds in the manner we’d expect: punk’n’roll at 200mph and snarling vocals.  “Lights Out” is a frenzied rocker with the hugest chorus on the album – think the Anti-Nowhere League partying in a haunted house and you’ll be there.      

The band give a nod to their Seattle roots with an exemplary cover of Soundgarden’s “Hunted Down”, a surprising song choice, but it makes perfect sense.  WCG take the original and inject even more brutality, but retain a little of the psychedelic feel of the original.

I’ve no idea who Brooks is, but “Brooks is Here” features a helluva fast, almost psychobilly freak out.  “Make My Blood Boil” and “Day in the Death” have a similar feel, though “Deeper” takes a more metallic approach with some added Sisters of Mercy atmos.

“One of Us” is fast and nasty, unafraid to have some fun with the horror punk cliches, but adding a ruthless heavy rock influence.  Like the best of Seattle bands, it’s an irresistible collision of punk and metal that’s fun and makes the listener beg for more.  Why aren’t more bands like this? 

My old mate Ronnie James Dio used to love Halloween.  He had fantastic costumes too: demons, zombies, imps.  I used to have to take him out Trick or Treating every year, acting as his minder.  Of course, I looked more like his parent, and most of the people thought little Ron, knocking on their door, was a child.  He got loads of candy though, and he always shared it with me.  Happy days.

Check out the fantastic White City Graves on Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

This review is presented 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.       

EMQs with… Platinum Al

Last year, in the depths of lockdown and with no live entertainment to review, the glorious website that is Ever Metal was kind enough to open up their Ever Metal Questions series to the reviewers. As an EM contributor I was finally able to fulfil a lifelong ambition – and satisfy my enormous ego – by being interviewed for the site.

The questions were pretty much what we ask musicians, only I had the privilege of answering them myself. And now, in a move that confirms that I really have no shame, I proudly re-present the same interview here, at the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, it is my birthday this month…

Enjoy!

What is your name, what do you do, and can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up doing it?

My name’s Alun, AKA Platinum Al.  I write some reviews for Ever Metal, which came about through meeting Rick and Beth at Pentre Fest a while back.  “I can write!” I lied, and they’ve been too kind to bin me off ever since.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

North Wales in the UK.  We seem to be a bit out in the wilderness to the outsider, but thankfully there are a few venues that put good bands on in Chester and Wrexham (both nearby) and of course, the good old Tivoli in Buckley (just up the road).  Liverpool and Manchester are both accessible.  The big win for us though is Pentre Fest – and all the other events that North East Wales Metal Productions put on.  It’s introduced me to loads of new music and it’s right on my doorstep. 

What is your favourite latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Desert Storm’s “Omens” on APF Records is album of the year so far.  Beyond that, I’m still reeling from the wonder of Giant Dwarf’s self-titled master piece, my album of 2019.

Who have been your greatest influences, in music or in life?

George Lucas, for Star Wars – which influenced me more than anything since I was five years old.  Stan Lee and Marvel comics have also been a big inspiration.  Skateboarding in general has opened my eyes and ears to the wonder of the world since my teens. 

In music, there’s dozens: Johnny Cash, Motorhead, AC/DC, Ramones, the Damned, The Misfits, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Monster Magnet, COC, Melvins, Jimi Hendrix etc etc.

What first got you into music?

I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack first of all; it still has an amazing emotional response on me even now.  The next big development was seeing the film Highlander, which I loved.  A friend of mine recommended the Queen album A Kind of Magic as it featured several songs from the film, and it’s been downhill from there.  Thankfully, through skateboarding I was introduced to music that was a bit off the beaten track, shall we say.

Which current bands or musicians would you like to see collaborate on a record?

Good question!  How about Shakin’ Stevens – the Welsh Elvis – fronting the Misfits?  Danzig can write the songs.

If you could go to any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Pentre Fest!

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

I have some pretty weird vinyl in my collection, like Roland Rat, the Wurzels and an album called “How to Strip for Your Husband”.   Oh, and a Joan Collins work out record.

If you had one message for your Ever Metal readers, what would it be?

Never ever bloody anything ever.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

So many greats to choose from (sadly).  I’ll nominate my old mate Lemmy, as I probably embarrassed myself when I met him by talking bollocks.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Stop developing new formats – you lied to us about CDs when vinyl was the ultimate.  There are some albums I own on vinyl, tape, CD and download – and I’ve had to buy every single one.  Can we all just agree to not buy whatever new garbage format they try and lumber us with in the future? 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Vinyl, obviously!

What’s the best gig that you have been to, and why?

Black Sabbath at Birmingham Genting Arena on their “The End” tour is up there.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing/ taking photos?

Working the day job and being a dad mostly.  Then listening to music, skateboarding, riding my bike, watching old Hammer horror movies, collecting toys, drinking beer.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Sir Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Joey Ramone and Lemmy.

If they have to be alive, then James Hetfield, Glenn Danzig, Dave Vanian, Henry Rollins and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I don’t know, but I had cherry ones in Greece and they were amazing!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just thanks for giving me the opportunity to flaunt my massive ego by doing an interview, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!  HAHA!

Oh, and to the readers of Ever Metal: thanks for reading, and never forget that we are fans just like you and we do this for the love of the music.  Never say die!

Read more Ever Metal staff EMQs here.

1968 – Ballads of the Godless album review

My review of the new 1968 album, “Ballads of the Godless”, has just appeared on EVER METAL.  Here’s the review again, just because:

 

1968 – Ballads of the Godless 

Release date: 06/07/2018

Running Time: 38:24

8/10

Sometimes, without warning, it all comes flooding back and I’m thrust into the nightmare of that jungle.  Thirty days on patrol with no chopper cover.  The heat, unbearable; sweat running in rivers down my spine.  Cradling my M16 like a good luck charm, praying under my breath that there ain’t no VC gonna unload a torrent of lead at me and my buddies.  Trudging on, hour after hour, waiting to get back to the LZ for evac.  Chukka-chukka-chukka, the Hueys overhead and the rush of wind from the blades.

Maybe these guys from 1968 were in Nam too.  Maybe this debut album, “Ballads of the Godless” is actually a lost relic from those days that’s just been unearthed.  Maybe 1968 invented heavy, psychedelic rock after hearing Hendrix and Cream and some of those old blues guys.  Certainly seems crazy enough to be true.

Opening with “Devilswine”, 1968 lay out their ground plan confidently.  It’s a mighty power groove that makes your head nod, setting the tone for the whole album.  “Screaming Sun” follows and adds a more psychedelic shine, Jimi Coppack’s vocals soaring while the riffs hammer.  “Temple of the Acid Wolf” adds further intricate detail, with shades of vintage Soundgarden.  1968 set about laying waste to all in it’s sights like Ozzy manning the Air Cav machine gun on a strafing run.

It’s not all Ride of the Valkyries mayhem however.  Last track on Side 1 (vinyl lovers!), “S.J.D.” is an instrumental that provides a more reflective tone.  Acoustic guitar and piano feature, in a stylistically fine salute to the classics of the genre.

This bleeds nicely into Side 2, track 1 – “Chemtrail Blues”, where guitarist Sam Orr gets chance to unleash Hendrixian guitar flourishes over a bluesy beat.  It’s like that time me and my buddy chewed acid in a fox hole while under fire.  The rocket traces in the sky lit up like God’s neon veins.

“McQueen” opens with some infectious bass, before melting out of a mellow vibe and into a crushing chorus.  The bottom end is nice and heavy throughout, The Bear delivering pummelling yet warm playing.

Rhythms are also tight and show a groove more contagious than jungle malaria.  Dan Amati on drums shines on “The Hunted” in particular.  Final track “Mother of God” brings on a deceptively laid back, acid dripping feel as we finally get some R’n’R in Saigon.

“Ballads of the Godless” reveals more and more depth, thought and intricacy with each listen.  On this first album, the band make good on a lifetime studying from the past masters.  My only question is how will 1968 continue to evolve and add to their sound?  I can’t wait to find out.

For now, it’s back to reality.  No more choppers overhead, cries in the jungle and that oppressive, relentless heat.  Until I spin “Ballads of the Godless” again…

 

You can read more about all things metal at the Ever Metal site.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #12

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 30th June 2017

A warm welcome back to Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, at the Queens Head pub in Mold, North Wales.  It’s been a while since the last event, so I had plenty of ideas for what to play.  Events would alter those plans somewhat, however…

To recap, Bring Your Own Vinyl Night is exactly what it says on the tin: you bring along some records, and get a fifteen minutes slot to play whatever you like.

I’d originally planned an entirely different set list, but following the tragic news of Chris Cornell’s passing, I developed a tribute set instead.  As one of my favourite ever musicians, it wouldn’t have been right not to.

My set went as follows:

Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike

Mother Love Bone were primed to be next big thing in rock; sadly the death of their singer Andrew Wood from a heroin overdose put an end to that.  The Temple of the Dog album came about as a tribute to Wood, from his band mates Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, and his friend Chris Cornell.  Joining them were Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and guitarist Mike McCready.  The music showcased a different aspect of Cornell’s writing, and provided a heartfelt tribute.  On this song, vocalist Eddie Vedder makes his debut, sharing the vocal spot with Cornell on a superb performance.  Of course, many of those names would go on to form Pearl Jam.  This album has tons of memories for me and features some amazing music, Hunger Strike being a highlight.

Soundgarden – The Day I Tried To Live

I was a huge Soundgarden fan; trying to select just a couple of songs was immensely difficult.  I chose this song as it showcases Chris’ amazing voice to great effect, plus the composition is superb: the song builds brilliantly to the massive chorus.  The effect is a song that sounds exactly like carpe diem gone wrong, thwarted by a frustration that is captured brilliantly in the vocal.  Taken from the completely essential “Superunknown” album, which is crammed full of absolute gold.  A record I played non-stop in my younger days, and still return to regularly.

Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand

“Down on the Upside” was the follow up to “Superunknown”, though to me it never reached the heights of it’s predecessor.  This song was one of the best on that set, written by Cornell and again featuring that incredible voice.  A fairly jaunty number to, so I wasn’t ending on too much of a downer.  I’ve re-visited “Down on the Upside” recently and it’s far better than I remembered it.  However making this selection was very difficult, as it meant nothing from the wonderful “Badmotorfinger” record would get a look in. 

So there you have it, my tribute set to the late, great Chris Cornell.  A fantastic musician, singer and song writer – and someone who has written music that has been a massive part of my life, through the ups and the downs.

A great night with some awesome sets, including from my buddies Adam and Graham.  Not to mention Kev playing a lethal track by Electric Wizard, which I didn’t expect!  Here’s hoping there will be another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night soon.

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

Pentre Fest 2017

Pentre Fest

Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th June 2017

McLean’s Pub, Deeside

Three days of the heaviest of metal, featuring underground, unsigned bands from across the UK, walking distance from my house.  How could I resist?

I’ve been to McLean’s pub in Pentre, Deeside several times over the years – usually for functions such as birthdays.  I had no idea, though, that they were regularly hosting gigs of the rock/metal variety.  Pentre Fest came out of the blue, but I managed to make it down for Saturday evening.

Pentre is a small area within Deeside, North Wales – and McLeans a fairly well known pub/function place.  Take it from me, the fact that Pentre Fest existed was a surprise at first.

As I was late arriving, I missed the first few bands, including the excellent Bad Earth.  I’ve seen them a while ago supporting Karma to Burn and they were excellent.  A bad start for me, I fully intend to see Bad Earth again sometime.

The first band I witnessed were Pelugion – they were a great introduction to the festival.  A metal band with a healthy element of stoner/doom, Pelugion rocked out in a Judas Priest or Megadeth vein.  They also excelled when they got into a slower, Sabbath like groove – bringing to mind Alice in Chains or Soundgarden.  Really impressive.

Outside the actual venue was a marque hosting acoustics acts.  This was proved handy between bands, especially on a sunny day like this when you could sip a beer outside with some live entertainment.

I saw Pelugion again performing a great acoustic set, which culminated in a heartbreakingly good version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”.  Serious hairs standing up on back of the neck time.  Wonderful stuff – the Pelugion singer has pipes indeed.

The names of other acts in the acoustic tent escaped me (sorry everyone), but I did see a fantastic one-man rendition of Tenacious D’s “Tribute”, and a band doing some classic rock covers.  And I do love me some classic rock.

Back inside, next up were Impavidus from Manchester way.  Their set consisted of some incredibly locked in, expertly performed and aggressive metal.  With a sound not too far away from Carcass, the pleasant surprise with this band is the amazing singer, who happens to be female.  There just aren’t enough girls in rock/metal, but Michelle impressed with a vocal ranging from slinky Siouxsie Sioux to a commanding metal growl.  Excellent show from all of the band, across the board – and a decent bunch of folks, too.

Up next on the indoor main stage were thrash titans Incinery.  Their scorching hot set of purest thrash metal glistened with speed and precision.  Obvious comparisons would be Slayer at their fastest, with the riffs of Testament or even Sepultura.  Absolutely no fucking about delivery and really gripping viewing, Incinery bring back the best of old school thrash and drag it with them into the future.

Amusingly, in a very Phoenix Nights kind of way, whilst all this blistering metal was being unleashed on the main stage, there was 60th birthday party in the next room.  Absolutely bloody hilarious!  I wonder what Granny made of it…?

But back to the music, and next on the bill were Haerken (apologies for the spelling, I can’t find the right symbol on my keyboard).  A different tale altogether from what we’ve experienced so far, Haerken introduced some Medieval themed mayhem with a killer presentation.  Dressed like knights or druids etc, their Olde Worlde death fest was brilliantly presented and featured some intricate musicianship.  Sharp as a gleaming sword and just as lethal.

Finally, headlining Saturday night, were the exquisitely named Sodomized Cadaver, from good old South Wales.  With a band name and song titles in the classic controversy baiting death metal style, it was obvious what we would be getting.  The heaviest band of the day, with a brutal rip-your-face-off  musical attack, these boys mercilessly slaughtered the gathered metal hordes.  Vastly entertaining, their savage yet brilliantly played Metel Angau* was murderously superb.

And that was it.  At least for me, as I could only attend Saturday.  Next year, I’m attending all three days and YOU’RE COMING TOO.

Awesome live music from the metal underground, Pentre Fest also delivered a great atmosphere and camaraderie amongst some very cool people.  Let’s have another!

The Facebook page for Pentre Fest is here.  There are links to all the bands over the full weekend – do the research, it’s worth it.

The McLeans Pub Live FB page is here.

* I am reliably informed that this is Welsh for Death Metal.

1968 – Gig Review

1968

Friday 12th May 2017

Telfords Warehouse, Chester

The road to Telfords Warehouse was littered with walking corpses, stumbling clumsily with clothes falling from their limbs.  The zombified masses were yet again evacuating Chester Races, bumbling along in a drunken stupor.  I was on my way to Telfords to witness something far more intriguing – local band 1968 playing live, in a safe haven away from the riders of the apocalypse outside.

Telfords Warehouse is always a great place to visit, though it’s not famed for showcasing music like we were looking forward to tonight.  I’ve enjoyed music from other genres at the venue, but it was good to be expecting some noisy rock.  I met up with old buddy Dan and waited for the sonic attack to begin.

As you’d expect with a name like 1968, this band has Sabbath, Mountain, Blue Cheer and others of that ilk in their DNA.  It’s heavy, stoner rock with a reverence for the originals, proudly worn on their sleeves like old sewn on patches.  The bass chugs, the drums pound, the guitars wail and the vocals soar – all classic stuff.

It’s not just about the originators in this sonic stew though.  I could hear hints of epic Soundgarden, crunchy Kyuss riffs and even some COC style southern groove.

Enough of the band comparisons.  1968 are taking their influences and weaving new landscapes, using their own talents to create something energetic and new.  The band present a crushing presence on stage, performing their material with a killer confidence.

There’s even a progressive, experimental edge to some songs, with short instrumental sections lowering the volume and creating a mellower vibe.  If anything, I’d like to hear more of this develop in the songs – if only to provide a psychedlic contrast before the guitars thunder in again.

Any race goers who had wandered into Telfords soon left, slain by the merciless onslaught of 1968.  A superb band, I can’t wait to see them live again.  They have the riffs, the power and the vision to take them far.

It’s 1968.  The revolution is now.

Visit the 1968 Bandcamp page and download their awesome “Fortuna Havana” EP here.

1968 are on Facebook here.

The Telfords Warehouse website is here. 

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

20.07.1964 – 18.05.2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scorpion Child – Gig Review

Scorpion Child + Jared James Nichols + The Bad Flowers

Tuesday 1st November 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

Almost a year to the day since I last saw the mighty Scorpion Child rocking out, and in the same venue too.  This time the crowd numbers are down, but hell – it was a bleak Tuesday evening.  No excuse though – people should have been at the Live Rooms for this gig.

I just managed to catch the end of the first set, by UK band The Bad Flowers.  This three piece were all power and chunky riffs – think Motorhead menace with some ZZ Top rock in there.  Very appetising and well worth keeping an eye on.

Next up was Jared James Nichols, with his two bandmates, bringing us our second three piece of the night.  This American band play a fine blend of bluesy hard rock, delivered with a confident, killer attack.  Mountain were a fair comparison – they rocked out a crunching “Mississippi Queen” just to prove it.  Quality entertainment with a boogie groove!

The last time I saw Scorpion Child, they were here on tour with Crobot (another superb band).  Now with their second album – the extremely brilliant Acid Roulette – firmly under their belt, I was keen to witness these new rock’n’roll superstars-to-be again.

Scorpion Child deliver music that is well schooled in the classics of the past – Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple.  And like those bands they’re able to deliver monster rockers like “Liqour” and “She Sings, I Kill” along with some superbly epic moments that build beautifully (“Survives” and “Acid Roulette”).

There’s also a thinly disguised darkness about the bands sound, not exactly doomy but much more in the vein of 80’s bands like the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy.  At their most bombastic, Scorpion Child are reminiscent of The Cult (from whence they claimed their name).  Apologies for endless musical comparisons – but this band really have some classic style that merits a bigger fan base.  Throw in some Danzig and Soundgarden and you’ve got a list of some of my favourite bands.

A great deal of the set is from the new album, showing justified confidence on the bands part.  Songs like “My Woman in Black” and “I Might Be Your Man” are thundering hard rock compositions that are classics in the making.

A great gig, shame about the low attendance (and the lack of merch!) – but brilliantly infectious modern hard rock.  I’m off for fish’n’chips.

The Scorpion Child website is here.

You can find Scorpion Child, Jared James Nichols and the Bad Flowers on Facebook.

The Live Rooms website is here.

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