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

Songs of the Week 17.07.2016

This weeks “louder then the rest” tunes:

  1. Fishbone – Change
  2. House of Pain – Jump Around
  3. Wolfmother – California Queen
  4. Queens of the Stone Age – The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret
  5. Dr. John – Jump Sturdy

Random Skateboard Playlist

It’s been a long while since I shared a random playlist with you.

I recently went out for a skate, split between riding my Mindless longboard and spending some time on a classic old school Santa Cruz Street Creep.  Whilst skating around, I switched the iPod onto shuffle and these are the tunes I heard.

  1. Dead Kennedys – “Moon Over Marin”
  2. Steppenwolf – “Live Your Life”
  3. Little Richard – “I Don;t Know What You’ve Got, But It’s Got Me (Parts 1 & 2)”
  4. Motorhead – “Back At The Funny Farm”
  5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Gimme Three Steps”
  6. Orange Goblin – “Hounds Ditch”
  7. Rod Stewart – “True Blue”
  8. Wire – “I Am The Fly”
  9. The Wildhearts – “In Lilly’s Garden”
  10. Hypnos 69 – “My Journey To The Stars”
  11. Monster Magnet – “Slut Machine”
  12. Iggy Pop – “New Values”
  13. The Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”
  14. Sisters of Mercy – “More”

Not a bad selection by the iPod there.

Melvins – Gig Review

Melvins + Big Business

Friday 9th October 2015

Gorilla, Manchester

I had been waiting for this for a long time.  As a long time fan of the Melvins, it seems inexplicable that I’ve never seen them live before.  But then I rarely travel to Manchester for gigs.  2015 has been the year of live music for Platinum Al; as such the planets aligned, the tickets were bought, the wheels were rolling towards the big city and it was on.  Finally, I would witness the wonder of the Melvins.

And not just the Melvins – the support slot went to Big Business, a two piece of bass and drums in a similar mould to the mighty headliners.  Of course, anyone who knows their Black Flag from their Black Sabbath will tell you that Jared and Coady of this band also perform with Buzz and Dale to create the steaming sonic soup with lumpy riff croutons that is the Melvins. Melvins

The Big Business set was extremely impressive in it’s own right.  As I said, the band is just bass and drums, yet the almighty noise they make is astounding for a two piece.  They play a solid set that could’ve been a main course of the evening’s entertainment.  Big grooves, pounding drums and awesome sound scapes create a fine appetiser.

Gorilla in Manchester is some sort of restaurant/bar thing, with a stage at the back for live shows.  It’s seems more in scale with stand up comedy gigs, but despite the modest size it’s a great place to see the band – close up, good views and sound.  The beer is a bit expensive, but I got a Melvins (official!) t-shirt for a tenner!  Yeah!!!

So anyway, the Melvins arrive on stage as a four piece – Buzz, Dale, Jared and Coady – and we’re off.  It’s a gig unlike any I’ve experienced ever before.  There’s no breaks; no chat with the audience; no introducing the songs – the band just plough through their catalogue of fantastic songs and drag the audience along with them.  The audience follow willingly, of course – and the band don’t ignore us – it’s a unique unspoken agreement that we’re all along for a hell of a musical journey.

The music is heavy, sludgy, intense – exactly what I expected and wanted.  There are several songs from newer albums (“The Water Glass”, “Evil New War God” – both superb).  Older classics like “Sweet Willy Rollbar” and “It’s Shoved” are given a welcome play too.  The absolute high light for me though is “Civilised Worm” – what a riff!

The power of the riff is what the Melvins are all about.  Buzz’s guitar is astoundingly heavy, yet also shines with artistic flourishes and strange sounds to keep the listener guessing.  The bass is relentless yet groovy, hammering home the riffs.  Add dual drummers and ears were ringing for days.

It was a truly intense live experience and one I’m really glad I saw.  Unlike anything else and worthy of the hype, the Melvins are a unique band and I love them.

Did I mention I got a t-shirt for a tenner??!!