Moths/The Stone Eye – EP Review

Moths/The Stone Eye – Split

Self-released (Dewar PR)

Release date: 21/08/2020

Running time: 26 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.  Which is why I like to mix my drinks.  And my strippers.   Why stick to just one, when you can explore everything life has to offer?  This split EP offers two bands and four tracks in total, showcasing a considerable amount of musical diversity and talent.

First up is Puerto Rican band Moths, with their track “Intervention”.  Beginning deceptively calm, restrained and quite beautiful, it soon builds and descends from a chunky stoner riff.  And then, at pretty much the halfway mark, “Intervention” erupts into a full-on aggressive growl fest, though still portraying an adept progressive spirit.  

The meandering intrigue of the opening track is followed by a less surprising cover of the Black Sabbath classic “Hand of Doom”.  A great song, but I was hoping for more original material or an unusual cover.  No fear though, Moths inject the Sabs tune with plenty of atmosphere, the powerhouse vocals of Damaris Rodriguez helping to make their own mark on the song.  Not easy with a genuine metal standard like this, Moths have the class to pull it off.

Then it’s over to The Stone Eye, for their track “Prescence of the Mind”.  These guys are from Philadelphia, PA in the USA.  A little harder to pin a style on, they journey on a stoner path that adds in psychedelic detours akin to some of the best 90s alternative rock – but never abandoning a gutsy garage rock swagger.

A cover of the old trad ballad “Wayfaring Stranger” is next from The Stone Eye.  Delivered in a bluesy style, it contrasts nicely with the other songs.  It both delights and begs for another play.

And there you have it: four songs, different in style but each displaying a sound that seems to well define both bands.  An excellent endeavour from both Moths and The Stone Eye, you’d be well rewarded in tracking this down.

And while we’re on the subject of moths: Glenn Danzig – remember him?  Singer/visionary with the Misfits, Samhain, and of course, Danzig.  Body builder, martial arts master and expert on the occult.  Scared to death of moths, I shit you not.  Always running around with his hands over his face, hiding under tables if there was one around.  Eventually, I learned to calm Glenn down by telling him that moths were simply goth butterflies.  Amazingly, it worked.

Check out Moths on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Check out The Stone Eye on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub in association with Ever Metal.

Wino – Forever Gone Album Review

WINO – Forever Gone

Ripple Music (Purple Sage PR)

Release date: 26/06/2020

Running time: 46 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Who remembers that old TV programme, The Fall Guy?  You know, the one where the Six Million Dollar Man becomes a stuntman/bounty hunter, getting into all kinds of daredevil scrapes whilst pursuing the bad guys?  At the end of every episode, old Lee Majors (for it was he) would be seen chilling in his backyard hot tub, mulling over events whilst drinking a cold beer and smoking a big, fat cigar.

Well let it be known that I, too, like to relax in the tub with a beer after a long, hard day of whatever-the-fuck-it-is-I-do.  None of your business, really.  Just take it from me, I need to unwind in a mass of bubble bath, with candles and refreshment.  And of course, some music, just to add to the ambience.

This might not sound very metal to you, but let me tell ya: this new album from doom metal originator Scott “Wino” Weinrich would make ideal tunes for chilling in the tub.  Or pondering lost loves and fortunes in a dusty bar.  Or sound tracking a lonely drive across the desert, escaping an inevitable encounter.  But to be honest, I like the bathtub metaphor best, ‘cos I’ve not used it before.

“Forever Gone” is stripped down and intimate; the title song itself is just Wino the man, plus acoustic guitar.  Beautifully melancholic, the listener can really get lost in this.  “Taken” also ploughs a lonesome path, with Wino’s voice revealing a soulfulness that I’d never appreciated before.  

For any fans of The Obsessed or Saint Vitus who were hoping for something louder and more aggressive, there’s not too much of a leap from familiar ground really.  Other than the sonics, the emotions of loss and despair are what unifies Wino’s other output to this endeavour.  “Dark Ravine” brings a more Americana style to the proceedings, but it’s all still intense as hell, whether the guitars are turned right up or not.    

It’s not all gloom, though: “You’re So Fine” introduces a laid back, country blues number that sounds almost boogie-ish.  Throw in a great cover of Joy Division’s “Isolation” and this is an album that’s certainly full of surprises.

Great music can create images in your head for your own movie; “Forever Gone” is one of those.  Melodic yet mournful, intense and introspective, there are dozens of stories to be told within the grooves of this record. 

Check out Wino on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Visit the Ripple music website here, or check ’em out on Facebook or Bandcamp.

And make sure you visit Ever Metal for more reviews of awesome music!

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock and Metal Albums of 2020

Good riddance, 2020! Am I right, or what? Still, it’s not all bad. There were some absolutely magnificent albums released last year – some I reviewed for my buddies at Ever Metal, some I discovered through other means. Some were massive, huge hits; others were small yet mighty triumphs.

Despite a lack of live music, there was plenty to investigate music-wise. So much so that it was really difficult to compile my annual Top 10 Albums list for Ever Metal. A few giants of rock and metal, though they released highly accomplished work, were reluctantly forsaken in my search for the crème de la crop.

Here they are, in (natch) reverse order:

10. The Goners – “Good Mourning”

9. Supersuckers – “Play That Rock’n’Roll”

8. Testament – “Titans of Creation”

7. Weed Demon – “Crater Maker”

6. The Atomic Bitchwax – “Scorpio”

5. Volcanova – “Radical Waves”

4. The Brothers Keg – “Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg”

3. Son of Boar – “Stoned Wail”

2. Desert Storm – “Omens”

  1. AC/DC – “Power Up”

I thought that this year, one of the smaller, indie label bands was sure to get to number 1. It almost happened, but then AC/DC released the total brain melter of “Power Up”, pretty much saving 2020 in the process. Now if only Angus and Co could release an album monthly, we might be able to get through 2021.

A few shout outs for notable mentions who didn’t make the cut this year, such as Ozzy, Wino and others. Seriously can’t believe I left out “Danzig Sings Elvis”, though.

You can read my full Top 10 (plus plenty of others) on the Ever Metal website, which also features links to songs and videos. Highly recommended! The direct link is here.

All the best for 2021 – here’s hoping for more great music!

Pentre Fest 2020

Pentre Fest 2020

McLean’s Pub, Pentre Deeside

21st & 22nd February 2020

I’m sure everyone who was there will agree that this year’s Pentre Fest was the best yet.  The bands were fantastic; the were more people; the vibe was magnificent.

Held at McLean’s in Pentre, Deeside, North Wales, this festival features underground, unsigned rock and metal from near and far.

I attended the full two days this year, and saw most of the acts performing.  I only wrote up a few though, so if you want to read the full review, visit the Ever Metal website here.

There were many highlights.  Witchtripper had been on my “must see” list for a while – they didn’t disappoint.  Old favourites Impavidus and Lullaby for a Unicorn were superb as always.  Cry for Mercy, Stormrider and Womenowar were some of the newly viewed bands that I was very impressed by.

The whole weekend was unmissable and I was genuinely sad when it was all over.  A brilliant, positive experience – well done to Fozzy, Beany, Frank and all the McLean’s staff.

You have to be there next year!

Ryuko

Ryuko presented a couple of surprises on Friday night’s acoustic stage.  First off, they were fully plugged in and electric.  Second, they play more of an alternative rock sound, which was something of a contrast to the majority of other Pentre Fest bands.  Readers may not be aware, though, that I am in fact King of Grunge, with my 90’s credentials well proven.  Ryuko’s set included some melody and even jangly pop along with heavier riffs, which was an enjoyable diversion in a Dinosaur Jr/Nirvana style.  Well performed, Ryuko just need to test their audience further and throw in additional surprises in either a “Negative Creep” or “About a Girl” vein.

Rhiannon and Rachel

Sadly Pentre Fest suffered a few casualties this year.  One such example was on the acoustic stage, where half of duo Rhiannon and Rachel was hospitalised and (obviously) unable to perform.  But the show must go on: and Rhiannon performed a short but enjoyable set on the acoustic stage.  Admittedly out of her comfort zone, playing guitar as well as singing, she soldiered on and won plaudits for her effort.  Only a few minor mistakes were noticed – and easily forgiven.  A beautiful singing voice that even managed to add a ghostly, ethereal sheen to a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” – making it sound good for the first time ever.

Mike West

If the connection between metal and outlaw country isn’t obvious to any readers, I can only pity you.  I’ve never witnessed Mike West before, but his amalgamation of southern rock, dusty country and swampy blues was a delight to my old whiskey-soaked soul.  Mike delivers his songs with a hard rockin’ swagger, as if he’s just busted out of Tombstone jail and is riding across the plains, lamenting women and fortunes lost.  A great voice and an outstanding presence, Mike is one to catch when you can.  Has anyone done a “Wild West” gag yet?  If not, there’s a headline for us there!

OMV

On the main stage, OMV entered dressed like a bunch of West Coast gangsters in masks and bandanas.  Introduced as “hardcore street metal”, these guys definitely showed some great musical skills and energy.  Somewhere between Bodycount, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard is where I’d stack them.  Either way, OMV delivered some brutal songs and bounced around with massive crossover riffs.  OMV were very entertaining, although hugely confrontational onstage – I wasn’t sure if they actually were going to pistol whip the audience into submission.  The music has enough intensity and power to speak for itself.

Luke Appleton

A really fantastic set was delivered by Mr Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage.  In truth, this was a duo performance with Rishi Mehta (of Babylon Fire) playing too, and it was a genuine highlight of Pentre Fest 2020.  Dubbed “acoustic metal”, the songs were both suitably laidback, yet delivered with a metal edge.  Expertly performed, we had tunes from Luke’s solo “Snake Eyes” project, plus of course some Iced Earth and Absolva numbers.  Not to mention a bit of Dio and Tenacious D for good measure!  A real class act in every sense of the word, and both very talented and down-to-earth gentlemen.

Son of Boar

They have a cool name, and they looked pretty cool on stage in matching denim battle-vests.  And from the very first notes of the bass rumbling on the very first song, I had a feeling that Son of Boar would be something special.  I wasn’t wrong.  These Bradford bruisers have everything in spades: they’re unfeasibly heavy; they have slow, doomy riffs with a Sabbath-like infectiousness; they have a sludgy, swampy groove that can pack an aggressive punk punch.  The best band of Pentre Fest 2020 as far as I was concerned, Son of Boar were superb.  I even bought a t-shirt.

Pentre Fest on Facebook.

N.E.W Metal Productions on Facebook.

Goodfor Audio Entertainment on Facebook

Mcleans Pub Live on Facebook.

Duel – Valley of Shadows Album Review

Duel – Valley of Shadows

Heavy Psych Sounds (Purple Sage PR)

Release date: 17/05/2019

Running Time: 38 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

 

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!

Duel are on Facebook here.

The Duel Bandcamp page is here.

Visit the Heavy Psych Sounds website here.

Heavy Psych Sounds are on Facebook here.

Heavy Psych Sounds are on Bandcamp here.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2018

2018 was a great year for music.  So much so, that I struggled condensing all those tasty new tunes into a top ten – and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right.  There are several other albums that could have featured in an annual top ten, but for reason or other didn’t make the cut.

Anyway, those cool folks at Ever Metal asked me to put together a list of my ten favourite rock and metal releases for the year.  I did so, Ever Metal posted it, and I thought I’d share with my Virtual Hot tub readers too.

So here we go, in reverse order:

  1. Ghost – “Prequelle”
  2. Gama Bomb – “Speed Between the Lines”
  3. Orange Goblin – “The Wolf Bites Back”
  4. Earthless – “Black Heaven”
  5. 1968 – “Ballads of the Godless”
  6. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – “Wasteland”
  7. Monster Magnet – “Mindfucker”
  8. Corrosion of Conformity – “No Cross No Crown”
  9. Fu Manchu – “Clone of the Universe”
  10. Clutch – “Book of Bad Decisions”

Hope you did a Smashy and Nicey voice in your head whilst you counted that down.

Some classic albums there, in my opinion at least.  Honorable mentions are due for Sleep, High on Fire and Satan’s Satyrs (amongst others) who just missed out.  Who knows, next week I might have changed my mind.

Finally, a big thanks to the Ever Metal team for having me on board.  It’s a real honour to be part of the team, and writing for the site has been one of my highlights of last year. Here’s to contributing more in 2019.  Cheers!

Visit the Ever Metal site here and check out some cool music!

Christmas Playlist

Nothing gets me in the festive spirit like a few classic Christmas songs, or indeed, a bit of seasonal strangeness – as in this playlist.  A bit of alcohol helps too, mind.

I’ve already covered my Top Ten Christmas songs, and this playlist isn’t just run down of all the usual Crimbo staples.  This list is more complicated, idiosyncratic, and pointless than that.

Within my music collection are several Christmas songs, of varying fame, often collected together on themed compilations.

This list pulls together the songs that aren’t on those compilations, as well as some of the standards that do, but for one reason or another have found themselves bundled in with this bunch of misfits.

For example, there are several tunes that are always part of any respectable Christmas collection, but can also be found bunged onto Greatest Hits albums.  Songs like the wonderful Slade song “Merry Xmas Everybody”: it’s on all the comps, but I selected my copy from the Slade Best Of to group together with similar songs.  Shaky, The Pogues and John Lennon are other examples of this type.

Then there are the album Crimbo album tracks that are hidden away on band’s regular studio albums, such as the Ramones track (see also: AC/DC, Joan Jett).  They’re not going to crop up on a Now Christmas comp, so I added them here.

Plus, there are various songs from singles (the Darkness track) and a few of dubious seasonal pedigree…

Here’s my Christmas Odds and Sods playlist.  Enjoy!

  1. Slade – “Merry Xmas Everybody”
  2. Shakin’ Stevens – “Merry Christmas Everyone”
  3. The Pogues (with Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York”
  4. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
  5. Queen – “Thank God it’s Christmas”
  6. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”
  7. AC/DC – “Mistress for Christmas”
  8. The Beatles – “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
  9. The Darkness – “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)
  10. Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews – “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
  11. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Little Drummer Boy”
  12. Boney M – “Mary’s Boy Child”
  13. Christopher Lee – “Silent Night”
  14. Bad News – “Cashing in on Christmas”
  15. Roy Orbison – “Pretty Paper”
  16. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – “There’s No Light on the Christmas Tree Mama They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight”
  17. The Damned – “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause”
  18. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – “Home for the Holidays”
  19. Monster Magnet – “Dead Christmas”
  20. UK Subs – “Hey Santa”
  21. Black Stone Cherry – “Santa Claus is Back in Town”
  22. Christopher Lee – “Little Drummer Boy”
  23. Queen – “A Winter’s Tale”

Merry Christmas all!

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. 

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #9

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 4th November 2016

It was great to be back in Mold for another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  It’s been a long time since the last evening in the Queen’s Head, with summer holidays and whatnot getting in the way – so it was good to see the familiar faces and crank out some tunes.

The usual rules applied: each person got 15 minutes on the decks to play whatever they liked, genre free – vinyl only!

Adam went for it first, here’s an over view of his varied and very enjoyable set:

  • Voice of the Beehive – I Think I Love You
  • Grandmaster Flash – Whitelines
  • Queen – One Vision
  • Willie Nelson – On the Road Again

I am so jealous of that Willie Nelson single!

Halloween had just been and gone a few days earlier, so I was still in a spooky mood.  This time, my set went like this:

Monster Magnet – See You in Hell

One of the many stand out tracks from Monster Magnet’s classic “Powertrip” album, this is acid drenched stoner rock at its finest.  The retro sound is augmented by a churning organ that whirls around as the bass chugs.  Psychedelic wonderment from Monster Magnet that sounds like a forgotten late 60’s gem.  I’ve owned the “Powertrip” album for many years on CD, but recently acquired the new vinyl re-issue.  Money well spent.  A truly great, under appreciated band.

Donovan – Season of the Witch

This fantastic song was featured in the Tim Burton movie Dark Shadows, a film I’m a huge fan of (though it appears not many other people are).  Whilst the previous song sounds like something from the sixties, this one is.  It’s a mellow groover that manages to wander out of hippy territory and sound somewhat sinister… Love this track, I felt it was a suitable jam for a Halloween inspired set.

The Damned – Plan 9 Channel 7

Ah, the Damned!  Where would a Halloween themed set be, without a tune from these punk rock proto-Goths?  One of my favourite bands, one of my favourite songs – from the indispensable “Machine Gun Etiquette” album.  Every home should own this!  The song is, of course, written about a viewing of Ed Wood‘s infamous “worst film ever made” – Plan 9 From Outer Space – on American horror channel 9.  Vampira, James Dean, Hollywood after dark – it’s all here in a perfect slice of rampaging pop punk.

The Misfits – American Nightmare

Finally, more horror punk from the masters themselves – the one and only Misfits.  On this track, Danzig and pals abandon the usual Ramones inspired turbo punk and offer up a ridiculously catchy rockabilly number.  Complete with handclaps and Danzig crooning more like Elvis than ever, this track sounds like a lost piece of 50’s nostalgia.  Classic stuff.

There we have it ladies and gentlemen – another great night in Mold!  Thanks to the guys from Halcyon Dreams and VOD music – and Dylan who helped out with an extra turntable!  More 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.

Songs of the Week 07.08.2016

A lot of vinyl played this week.  Here are the top 5 songs from the last seven days:

  1. Fu Manchu – Evil Eye
  2. The Clash – Jimmy Jazz
  3. Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
  4. The Meters – Cissy Strut
  5. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Red Admiral Black Sunrise