Wax Mekanix – Album Review

Wax Mekanix – Mobocracy

Electric Talon Records (Dewar PR)

Release date: 20/11/2020

Running time: 30 mins approx

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

“Who the fuck is Wax Mekanix?” You may well ask.  Who is this enigmatic troubadour, this mysterious master musician, who has concocted this art for us to absorb?  Well, I’m not sure I can answer those questions, but I have done some research.  A bit late, I know, as this album was first released back in November.  But hey, I can’t be cutting edge all of the time.  Sometimes a scribe such as I must admit that changes of seismic consequence occur without my usual omniscient vision.  Hard to believe, I know.

And yet here we are.  Six tracks of exploration and wonder that plough a beguiling path through musical genres, from classic hard rock to folky musings, with an added sprinkle of the unexpected and alternative.

If you want big full-on metal with groove, you’ll find it with “Blood in my eyes”.  Huge chants and choruses?  Try the gladiatorial detonation of “Victorious”, where you’ll also witness Brandon Yeagley and Chris Bishop of the very awesome Crobot playing the funky, infectious riffs that they’re famed for.

Wax himself is something of a renaissance man: writing, singing and playing on all tracks.  Possessing a voice that can change from a warm country croon to a caramel Maynard James Keenan earnestness to a classic Alice Cooper roar, Wax morphs easily from one to another.  He’s like Mike Patton with a folk fixation, but dressed even more dapper.

“Mad World” is one of my favourite tracks here, starting off with some Mexican guitars before erupting in a NWOBHM stampede that also recalls The Crue at their pop metal best.

The absolute highlight, though, is the final track “Black”.  This song is all eerie acoustic guitar and minimal percussion, with a catchy melody that creates something hypnotic and other worldly.  Despite also reminding me of Johnny Nice Painter form the Fast Show (do a Google) on the chorus, this song exudes atmosphere.

Although the album is a little short, there’s plenty to investigate.  Listeners will be rewarded with additional revelations each time they delve into it.    

When I first heard Mobocracy, I rated it as good.  After a couple of listens, I’ve upgraded it to GREAT.  A welcome amalgamation of styles and influences, as well as exemplary song writing and musicianship, don’t let the endeavours of Wax Mekanix pass you by.  Who is Wax Mekanix?  The real question should be: “What’s next?”

Speaking of wax, did I ever tell you about that time when Ozzy and me decided to do a séance with some candles he pilfered from some hippies?  That did not end well.  There’s a little B&B in Carlisle that still has scorch marks up the walls.  Tony was not impressed in the slightest.  And I still have a phobia of barbecues to this day.

You can check out Wax Mekanix on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Here Lies Man – Album Review

Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination

RidingEasy Records (Us/Them Group)

Release date: 22/01/2021

Running time: 61 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

OK: we have something very interesting here.  Something quite special.  Apparently, this is the fourth album from Here Lies Man, so I’ve got some catching up to do.  The bands unique selling point is their amalgamation of Black Sabbath with Afrobeat, and it’s a refreshing interpretation of a genre that continues to morph and bewitch the listener.

On this release, founding members Marcos Garcia (vocals/guitar) and Geoff Mann (drums) are joined by Doug Organ on keyboards and JP Maramba on bass.  Here Lies Man devoutly worship the riff in full-on Iommi style, but they’re piloting their space vessel on an exploratory course into previously uncharted galaxies.

Yes, there are chunky, heavy guitar riffs galore – but with a stroke of mad scientist genius the rhythms power the engine with a new force.  Tracks like “I Wander”, “Night Comes” and album highlight “Can’t Kill It” don’t just rock, they don’t just groove: there’s something – dare I say it – danceable in the songs on Ritual Divination.  So much so, that I might just have to go and shake my not inconsiderable booty right now.

There.  That’s better.  Just had to groove on out there, people – but I’m back now.  Here Lies Man have crafted something very infectious.  Snippets of 70s style heavy rock (“Collector of Vanities”), dizzy space rock (“In These Dreams”) and incessant beats (everywhere) create something that’s heavy AND fun.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the album feels slightly too long.  All this inventiveness is sometimes hard to keep up with, despite its addictive nature.  Over time, however, I’m guessing the additional length of the recording will probably deliver greater rewards.   

Ritual Divination by Here Lies Man: boldly rocking where no one has rocked before.

My old mates in Black Sabbath used to enjoy going off in random directions, too (usually because of the, er… substances).  One time, Bill Ward decided to play yet another prank on diminutive vocal god Ronnie James Dio by taking an axe to all the furniture in Ron’s hotel room and hacking off eight inches from the bottom of everything, to make it all smaller.  Chair legs, table legs, bed – the lot.  Moved the pictures – and the mirror on the wall – lower down by a foot, etc etc.

When Ronnie arrived, not only did he not get the joke, he really didn’t get the joke at all.  He thought it was a special room for the vertically challenged, congratulated the Hotel Manager and gave me a big cash bonus for booking him such a fabulous room.  Cheers, Bill!

Check out Here Lies Man website, on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Visit RidingEasy Records website and on Bandcamp.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Dozer Album Reviews

Not one, but three album reviews for you this week: Re-released by Heavy Psych Sounds, these three albums from Dozer are back and bouncing.  Here’s my review, as it originally appeared on Ever Metal and now here for your perusal:

Dozer – In the Tail of a Comet/Madre de Dios/Call it Conspiracy

Heavy Psych Sounds

Release date: 13/03/2020, 20/03/2020

Running time: 38 mins, 40 mins, 56 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10, 9/10, 9.5/10

Don’t you just love it when you find a new band to obsess about?  Music so awesome, so perfect that it just lights up your life.  Well, Dozer have filled that gap in my existence recently – I can’t believe how I endured without them before.  Though these three albums are all reissues from the early part of the 21st century, so fuck knows what I’ve been up to for the last 20 years.  Seriously, what was I doing back then that meant I missed out on this?

Hailing from the wonderful land of Sweden, a place which must have some kind of genetic master code for musical excellence, Dozer are a mighty stoner rock collective delivering heavy, intense and groove laden tunes.  I don’t know how or why the Swedes are so good at this – is it the long, dark winter isolation?  The never-ending day light in summer?  Agnetha Falkstog’s tight pants?  There’s something magical happening there, that’s for sure.

Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds have done the world a remarkable, philanthropic favour by re-issuing these three albums by the band.  And, praise Tony Iommi, on beautiful, sexy vinyl too.  This really is a wondrous, benevolent gift to bestow upon us.

So, what does the music sound like, you ask (at least you do if, like me, you were clueless enough to be unaware of Dozer previously)?  First album “In the Tail of a Comet” (8.5/10) erupts into beautiful, head nodding, rolling riffs from the off.  Layers of fuzzy, psychedelic invention and heavy rhythms usher us into their world.  A particular highlight is the finale, “High Roller”, where although the band take their foot off the gas a little, they create a trippy, vast soundscape to get lost in.

Nay-sayers may choose to point out Dozer’s obvious similarity to Kyuss; hell, even singer Fredrik Nordin sounds like a carbon copy John Garcia.  With their second album, “Madre de Dios” (9/10), that influence becomes less pronounced as their own creativity develops.  This second album seems more brutal, more aggressive.  It doesn’t take long, however, to reveal more textures and experiments with the formula – see “Earth Yeti”.  Album number 2 is a faster, heavier, punkier version of Dozer – yet still expanding on the desert rock template.

By the time we get to the final album of this reissued trio – the immense “Call It Conspiracy” (9.5/10) – Dozer have developed their own sound and personality yet further.  The Kyuss/FU Manchu influence is still there, but Dozer have grown into something of their own.  This album is the heaviest, most “metal” work – but still creative as it stretches those stoner boundaries into new, warped shapes.  Whether it’s full throttle rock’n’roll with lead track “The Hills Have Eyes” or groove laden head-nodder “Man Made Mountain”, there’s much to explore here.

Gushing praise, indeed: but if you, dear reader, are a fan of the crushing riffs, unrestrained groove and sonic washes of stoner/desert rock – these Dozer albums are highly recommended.  Tune in, turn on and explore these revived classics now.

Check out Dozer on Facebook.

Check out Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook and on the interweb here.

Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 27/09/2019

Running time: 49 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

You’ve got to hand it to the Swedes.  They’re pretty damn good at whatever they turn their hands to.  Cheese with holes in, chocolate, clocks… No wait, that’s the Swiss.  The Swedes are the ones who are awesome at flatpack furniture and – most importantly for us – music.

Firebreather are a trio of doom-mongers from Gothenburg in Sweden.  Comprising Mattias Noojd on vocals and guitar, Kyle Pitcher on bass and drummer Axel Wittbeck, these riff-lords are adept at creating massive, epic songs that are both brutal and beautiful.

The music pounds and pummels, but as in opening track “Dancing Flames”, the churning riff becomes hypnotically entrancing.  “Our Souls They Burn” is unleashed with a super-heavy grind that’s underpinned by a powerful groove.

It’s hard to pick a stand-out or favourite track, though the relentless structure of the songs creates a vast tapestry of music that blends together.  This is savage and also seductive, like the wilderness of their native Scandinavia.  Hence, we get the thunderous beat of title track “Firebreather” and the contrast of the slow rhythmic build and almost melancholic vibe of “The Siren”.

Repeated listens are definitely recommended: familiarity with “Under a Blood Moon” coaxes the songs to open up and reveal more treasures each time.  The listeners’ mind can imagine patterns and shapes cascading, like watching flames burn and dance.  It’s a solid album from Firebreather that only promises to grow and endure.

All this talk about fire-breathing brings back memories of my old mate Ronnie James Dio’s fascination with the Dungeons and Dragons board game.  Back in the early 80’s, when he was fronting Black Sabbath, Ronnie was obsessed with it.  He’d constantly badger the band to play it with him, which they did – begrudgingly.

Tony and Geezer amiably played along to humour their titan-voiced tiny singer.  I recall one time though, when Bill Ward had really had enough of elves and dragons – he threw a huge pitcher of ale over the game.  Ronnie was livid, Tony and Geezer were trying to stifle laughter.  Especially when Bill kicked the table, banged his big toe and fell about screaming in agony, ripping a hole in his wife’s tights.  Bill was always wearing his wife’s tights.  I think they kept him warm.

You can find Firebreather on Facebook and Twitter: @FIREBREATHERGBG.

Check them out on Bandcamp here.

This review originally appeared on the Ever Metal site, which you can visit here.

Cauldron – New Gods Album Review

Cauldron – New Gods

Dissonance Productions

Release Date: 07/09/2018

Running Time: 42 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7/10

Listening to Canadian trad metallers Cauldron, I can almost feel my Converse hi-tops sticking to the carpet in a dingy 80’s rock club.  Swigging from a rapidly warming bottle of Newcastle Brown, clad in an Iron Maiden T-shirt and waiting for my mullet to grow out into a full length rockin’ hairdo.  Them were the days, eh?!

Yes indeed, Cauldron are proud paid-up members of the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal club.  Or proper metal, if you prefer.  In other words, if Angel Witch and Diamond Head are your thing, you won’t go far wrong here.

Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t want to accuse these Toronto terrors of ripping anyone off, or being stuck in the past.  In fact, it’s quite refreshing to listen to old school heavy rock they way it used to be played.  This sound isn’t as prevalent as it should be nowadays.

“Prisoner of the Past” starts things off with a suitably meaty riff, and the best news is – you can bang your head to it!  Like, properly nod that noggin to the beat as you drive along.  Throw some horns too, if you want.  Cauldron ain’t gonna judge you, let yourself go!

Appropriately the second track is “Letting Go”, and it’s obvious that the band are able to weld together some sharp melodies to the music.  Band members Jason Decay, Ian Chains and Myles Deck have obviously studied their influences hard and can unleash the goods with precision.  “No Longer” rides another infectious intro and you can be sure we’re on exciting, though safe, ground.

“New Gods” follows pretty much the same formula throughout; though the final part of fourth track “Save the Truth – Syracuse” (maybe it’s just the “Syracuse” bit?) adds some experimentation that reminded me of Van Halen’s “Sunday Afternoon in the Park”.  After that, another blazer of a song in “Never Be Found”.

Unfortunately, Cauldron do blow it with “Together As None” – a nearly-power ballad, the track that would’ve been extracted for a single.  Here the band manage to add too much fromage to their fondue.  This is the lighter waving, last dance smoocher that no-one needed to be reminded of.  Almost-not-quite good enough for the Rocky IV soundtrack.

Thankfully they get their shit together to finish the record with a spritely, Iommi style instrumental (“Isolation”) and a final, Priest style rocker in “Last Request”.

Whether you admit it or not, you love old school rock and metal.  Of course you do.  And “New Gods” is more honest celebration than cliché.  However, please be warned that some of the ingredients may be fast approaching their Best Before date.

This review appeared on the Ever Metal website and is reproduced here for your enlightenment.  Click here to visit the Ever Metal website.

Satan’s Satyrs – The Lucky Ones Album Review

Satan’s Satyrs – The Lucky Ones 

Riding Easy Records, Bad Omen, US/THEM

Release date: 19/10/2018

Running Time: 35 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7/10

Satan, eh?  Old Beelzebub has had a long-established association with rock’n’roll.  Most notably there was dear old Black Sabbath, or as I knew them in the late 60s, a bunch of hippies called Earth.  I remember well the day I lent Tony and Geezer (let’s face it, the brains of the bunch) some cash to go to the cinema for a break in rehearsal.  Lo and behold, the pair were inspired by queues for a horror film to rename the band in a scary manner.  They called themselves Black Sabbath, and an unholy cacophony known as Heavy Metal was born.

These Satan’s Satyrs lads may well be in league with the devil himself, I don’t know.  They do peddle a very enjoyable mash up of garage punk and 70’s proto metal, however.  Like Motorhead covering T-Rex songs, whilst a bunch of rowdy werewolf bikers have a drug party.

Opener “Thrill of the City” rages out of the pit and sets the tone nicely.  Most of the album follows suit and it’s as greasy as a week-old chip pan.  Muscular yet melodic dual guitars from Jarrett Nettnin and Nate Towle, with Clayton Burgess providing vocals and deep-fried bass and solid drums by Stephen Fairfield.

“She Beast” offers up a beautiful, big fat riff that really greased my gears.  That glam rock sheen shines through nicely on “Trampled by Angels” and there’s a change of pace somewhat with “Take it and Run”, which has a pleasant jangle.

In honesty it took a couple of listens to begin to appreciate “The Lucky Ones” – deceptively simple at first, yet revealing more gleaming gems when the grime was rubbed off a little.  A great, satisfying record and I’ll be investigating more of Satan’s Satyrs in future.

Oh, and Ozzy, if you’re reading this: if I could have back that tenner I lent you in 1969, I could really do with it.  Cheers.

 

The above review was originally published by Ever Metal – go check ’em out for more rock and metal reviews!

Black Sabbath – The End

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Black Sabbath + Rival Sons

Saturday 4th February 2017

Genting Arena Birmingham

The mighty Black Sabbath.  They created down tuned, dirty, doom laden heavy metal aeons ago.  Wrote songs that defined an entire genre and inspired millions of people.  Lived the rock’n’roll lifestyle to legendary excess, managing to survive through some miraculous method or other.  Black Sabbath are musical titans.

And this was The End – their last ever gig.  At least as far as we know at this point in time, and taking into consideration the band members current situations.

This was The End – Black Sabbath’s last live performance, ever – in their home city of Birmingham.

Through a result of pure luck I was able to blag myself on a trip to witness the event.  Sabbath are one of those bands that I’ve long been obsessed with, going on nearly thirty years now.  They’ve created fantastic albums that I’ve listened to again and again, so it was great to be able to catch this gig, before it was all over.

The support band were Rival Sons, a younger band that’s regarded very positively by fans and press alike.  I’m only familiar with one album or so worth of songs, but can safely say that they put on a very impressive performance.  Their music is rooted in the classic rock of yore, so it was an apt choice to support.  I didn’t recognise any of the material, but then Rival Sons are a band that definitely require some homework on my part.

A confident and popular support act, Rival Sons coped with the huge arena well.  They merit further investigation – I’m sure that classic song to get me hooked is tucked away on an album somewhere.

And so to the headliners, the incredible but sadly not immortal, Black Sabbath.  Of course they opened with the legendary “Black Sabbath” – what else? – the eerie three note, devil’s tritone that heralded the birth of metal years since.  A perfect start to the evening, Black Sabbath then proceeded to entertain with two hours of solid classics.

From my vantage point, standing in the massive arena hall near the sound desk, I couldn’t see great deal.  In fact, I could see more of Kelly and Sharon Osbourne, in the nearby VIP area,  than I could of Ozzy.  The sound however was superb and the set loaded with classics.  Plus I don’t think Ozzy (or Tony or Geezer) did much running around the stage anyway. bs1

Most of the songs were from the first four albums, which was cool by me.  Highlights were “Into the Void”, “Snowblind”, “Children of the Grave” and an unexpected showing of “Hand of Doom”.  Brilliant bass from Geezer Butler on “N.I.B.” too.

My absolute favourite Sabbath track, “Supernaut”, was unfortunately relegated to being sandwiched in as part of a medley (along with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, another fave) – and therefore sadly under exposed.  A shame that, I went mental when the opening riff started.  No “Sweet Leaf” either.

“Supernaut” should have been in the set, certainly it was preferable to “Dirty Women” which was hauled out of the cellar and into the light one more time.  Although not their best material, this song did give Tony Iommi a chance to shine, the final guitar solo was absolutely explosive.

There were sadly no extra special moments, such as famous guests getting up to join in – maybe that would’ve diluted the spotlight on Sabbath.  It was nice to let them have their final moment of glory.  I think we were all hoping Bill Ward would make an appearance behind the drum kit for one last time though.

And finally, it was all over – with one last rendition of the genius song that is “Paranoid”.

Their final  gig was set to be emotional, set in their hometown for one last time.  In fact it was a hugely uplifting experience, rather than sombre – hundreds of the faithful showing their respect for all the music we love.  Not just Sabbath, but every metal band that’s followed in their sepulchral wake.

Black Sabbath – their legacy lives on.  They are the ultimate metal band and they leave us with a back catalogue beyond compare.  It’s never really The End.

The full setlist is here.