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 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.

Volbeat – Gig Review

Volbeat + Support

Friday 18th October 2013

Manchester Academy

OK, so I should’ve posted this gig review a while ago – Hallowe’en Horror Fest got in the way.  I apologise.  Better late than never.

My buddies and I went to the magical land of Manchester, to see Volbeat.  The weather was terrible – non stop rain – as befits Mancunia.  It always rains there.  Every time I’ve been, ever.

I missed the first support band, but arrived just as Iced Earth were beginning their set.  I’d heard of the band, but never listened to them – so wasn’t sure what to expect.  I thought they were death metal, I was wrong.  I thought they were European, they’re American.  They were better than I expected, more trad metal (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest) with some 80’s thrash (Testament, Megadeth) along for the ride.  Another comparison I can make is Black Label Society.  Overall, I was impressed with their crunching attack and will look out to purchase some recorded material.

Before Volbeat take the stage at the Academy, they treat us to some Motorhead.  An apt intro tape, as much like Lemmy’s crew, we are dealing with a heavy band who make no secret of their love for good old rock’n’roll.  “Born to Raise Hell” thunders from the PA until Volbeat erupt into live action – and we’re off.

Volbeat are an interesting concept.  Undeniably they are a heavy rock/metal band, yet they embrace the past unlike many others.  Thus we are given a cheeky rendition of “Ring of Fire” and a rocked up “I Only Want to be With You”, to garnish the rockabilly twangs of their original  material.  To be honest, it’s nothing that Glenn Danzig hasn’t already done, but there’s something great about hearing current metal’s DNA being exposed that makes this band thoroughly enjoyable.

In the audience, you can spot the odd dude with a quiff alongside the usual metal uniforms, not to mention a couple of girls in Bettie Page styled attire.  Very cool.  And definite visual evidence that here, rock has come full circle.

My only problem with this gig is that I don’t know the music well enough.  I have three albums by Volbeat, and they’re great – but to really get the benefit of this gig I should have done more homework.  Not that the songs don’t work if you’re not familiar with them – I just wish I’d taken more time to get under their skin.  Then this would’ve been a legendary gig, not just a great one.