About Me

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Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back. Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P). He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Ghost - 'Prequelle' Album Review


Ghost – Prequelle

Fans have come along for the ride for years, not knowing for certain who was behind the anonymous band… that is, until Tobias Forge recently revealed himself as the man behind Ghost. Each album is more like a film release than a record release. In addition to serving as director, Forge conceives the role of every character, and oversees everything from the screenplay to video to wardrobe design to artwork to cinematography to soundtrack.

For a brief Ghost 101 – Papa Emeritus I was singer on the first album. Papa II on Infintessimum, and Papa III on Meliora. Papa Emeritus Nil or Zero is the father of Papa’s II and III. II & III are brothers born three months apart! Papa Nil is considered too old for fronting Ghost, so in comes Cardinal Copia, who is an apprentice who needs to learn from the master, with a view to becoming Papa Emeritus IV and is vocalist for 'Prequelle'. Phew. Get it? Got it. Good. Then you're one step ahead of me.

Lyrically, Prequelle delves into the plague, the apocalypse, and dark ages. 

Now, back at the beginning I thought that Ghost were a gimmick band (Think Kiss, only in robes). I dismissed tham at my peril. I would have closed the curtains had they been playing in my back yard (etc,.). Until last year…

I caught them on tour and was completely blown away, buying all the albums within days, and fully emersing myself in the history and unbelievable riffs, coupled with melodies to literally die for.

On to 'Prequelle', and just like old school, we get an intro based on the plague, with “Ashes’, or as we Brits call it, ‘Ring a ring 'o roses’, before expanding into what becomes the unbelievably sing-a-long-a-tastic ‘Rats’. If anyone can make a poetic and infectious song about vermin, its Ghost. In fact, I cant tell the difference between Papa II and Copia. 'Rats' is based on 80s hair metal riffs, with the melody of J-pop! ‘Faith’ is old-metal neo-classical riffage, with their trade mark chugging riff overlaid,  and is the heaviest song on the album with some great harmonies – probably the only song that references their past. It ends with a choral passage leading into ‘See The Light’ and is gonna be a big hit for Ghost. The verse and chorus are like light and dark, with a delicate piano, and powerful darkness of the chorus.

‘Miasma’ is a bit of a strange beast in todays World, an instrumental from a bygone age of the 70s and 80s when albums used to be full of the buggers. I always thought it was a lazy option, but in this instance, guitars, retro keyboard synth and even a saxaphone all come to play their part. ‘Dance Macabre’ is an old school rocker that would have blitzed the Billboard charts back in the day and is different to anything that Ghost have previously given us, its something like Abba could have written back in the day, and is absolutely massive. ‘Pro Memoria’ starts as if it were a soundtrack piece, or written for a musical not too dissimilar from Jeff Wayne, and is like a old 70s prog song full of storytelling. Different, but in a great way. ‘Witch Image’s’ opening riff is just like klassik Kiss, and is catchy as Hell, with the keyboard and guitar riff interplaying with the melodic verse and chorus to great effect.

When you think one instrumental is one too many, then we get a second one. ‘Helvetesfonster’ is past X-Files intro, part Jethro Tull, and Ayreon, which is folky, earthy and just feels as if there's lyrics itching to reveal themselves, and for a 51 year old, brought up on shit like like this, is manna from Heaven. Its quickly onto the final song, ‘Life Eternal’ a more melancholic song for them, and proves to be a fitting end to this strange, different and beautiful album.

All the old elements are there from Ghosts past, but I think that this is an album that could get them even wider appeal as the songs of offer could, and should cross borders and open them up to a whole new audience. Its rock, metal, pop, prog, soundtrack and Broadway/West End musical running all they way through the veins of this album.

Its a difficult choice for promoters of the likes of Download to go outside of bands that were formed in the 70s or 80s to headline their festivals. Ghost are one of the few bands from the 21st Century who could step into that mantle now.

 

Ghost  have announced their fourth sacred psalm Prequelle (pronounced prē-KWELL) will be released on June 1, 2018 via Spinefarm/Loma Vista Recordings. Prequelle is available for pre-order. Limited edition bundles including 8-Tracks, Casettes and more are available exclusively in the Ghost shop - https://uklomavistarecordings.ochre.store/ghost


Score 9/10

Tracklisting -

Ashes
Rats
Faith
See The Light
Miasma
Dance Macabre
Pro Memoria
Witch Image
Helvetesfonster
Life Eternal

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Refuge - 'Solitary Man' Album Review


Refuge – Solitary Man

Peavy Wagner, Manni Schmidt & Christos Efthimiadis released five critically acclaimed albums as one of the most successful line-ups of the German metal band RAGE and have now reunited under the name REFUGE to carry on the sonic assault they started back in ’87. What started out as a “fun thing” in 2014 has turned into a real band again! Refuge’s debut album, ‘Solitary Men’ will see the light of day in summer 2018. It will be the first album of original material from this classic Rage line-up in 25 years and will surely satisfy fans who remember those now legendary albums!

My initial thoughts when this album starts is how far stuck in the late 80’s these guys are. There’s a really nice slow bit towards the end of ‘Summer’s Winter’ but that’s all that pulls me in so far.
‘The Man In The Ivory Tower’s’ opening riff gives me some hope but vocally, for me, something isn’t right, it doesn’t gel with the music. ‘Bleeding From Inside’ kicks in and that’s exactly how I feel listening to it. The opening riff is great but as soon as the lyrics kick in the song is destroyed. These guys are typical mid 80’s Megadeth / Iron Maiden style heavy rock and if you’re from that era it may be right up your street. I’m from that era and it isn’t, but I’ll continue to listen and give my fair opinion.

‘From The Ashes’ offers hope with it’s Dave Mustaine inspired opening which is great, but again doesn’t live up to expectations. ‘Living On The Edge Of Time’ is the best offering so far, with it’s ‘South of Heaven’ style intro. It is a very Helloween-style song.

As the album progresses its fair to say that fans of RAGE will love this. ‘We Owe A Life To A Death’ confirms what I’ve been thinking. I’m hearing, Maiden, Sacred Reich, Holy Terror. Nothing wrong with that, however, most 80’s bands have been able to drag themselves and their music into our current era. These guys haven’t and it’s a shame.

‘Let Me Go’ gives us a more rock’n’roll feel to the album but lyrically it just doesn’t work.
Overall this album will be a great addition for RAGE fans, but I can’t see it attracting any new fans. There just isn’t any song that stands out and shouts to a new audience. If you love RAGE buy it, if you’ve never heard RAGE………………Don’t.

Score 4/10

Reviewed by Sty

Track Listing

1 - Summer's Winter
2 - The Man In The Ivory Tower
3 - Bleeding From Inside
4 - From The Ashes
5 - Living On The Edge Of Time
6 - We Owe A Life To Death
7 - Mind Over Matter
8 - Let Me Go
9 - Hell Freeze Over
10 - Waterfalls
11 - Another Kind Of Madness (Bonus Track)

Line-Up

Peavy Wagner –bass & vocals
Manni Schmidt - guitars
Christos Efthimiadis - drums

Kendell Marvel - 'Lowdown & Lonesome' Album Review


Kendell Marvel – Lowdown & Lonesome

What’s in a name? For me, I like the musicality of Ken-dell Mar-vell, with added inflection on the dell & vel. I'm probably wrong, but its a great name. Lowdown & Lonesome is KM’s debut album and is released through Snakefarm Records today, May 18th.

I've had a love of what Id call ‘true country’ right from the early 70s as a young child, where my mum and dad would watch what would become and annual country fest out of the Wembley Arena with the likes of Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Don Williams and George Hamilton IV. It was supposed to be a dead genre, but ran in the UK well into the 80s and in recent years has been resurrected. I’ve been a fan ever since. Enough of ‘lil ‘ol me, over to Kendell...

Says KM ‘I’m really looking forward to the release of my debut record. It was produced by Keith Gattis, and I refer to it as ZZ Top meets Merle Haggard’, and THAT is a damn good description of where to start. He has a pretty incredible back story – he moved from his native Illinois to Music City in 1998 intent on pursuing a music career. On his first day working in the city, he wrote ‘Right Where I need To Be’ - a huge Top 5 hit for country music singer Gary Allan. Putting his dreams of being an artiste on the back-burner, he continued to build his career and reputation, penning hits for and with famed artists such as George Strait, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton (U.S., The Voice), and Chris Stapleton. Now, some 20 years down the line, Marvel is thriving as a singer songwriter in his own right. He hosts his own monthly show in Nashville, and is one of the hottest tickets in town, thanks to a wide range of guest appearances from the like of Alison Krauss, Foo Fighters, The Black Crowes and Brothers Osbourne. You don’t get that kind of help and support if you’re not very good!

To be honest, if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned names, Nashville, Country Rock, and the likes of Johnny Cash, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Rayna James, Deacon Claybourne, and The Good ‘Ol Boys (I could keep going for some time), mixed with a great knack of story telling and instantly memorable songs then you need look no further than Kendell Marvell and ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’.

Its a mixed bag of songs that range from what I’d call ‘proper old school country’ to more mainstream country rock and all the above with a hint of blues. Opening track and title track ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’ is a great country rock n roll song. Full stop. It draws on Johnny Cash (think ‘Man Comes Around’) to the heavier end of country such as Eric Church. Its a country check list of lyrics - ‘Fulsom’, ‘Walk The Line’, ‘Whiskey River’ etc. You could play a drinking game to the country metaphors listed here in this one song. ’Marvell’s vocals have a gritty and gravelly sound that just draws you in for the long haul. ‘Gypsy Woman’ is acoustical and just so achingly good. Especially with its little Hammond lilts, and has a warmth due to is really cool harmonies. ‘Heartache Off My Back’ just powers forward and just makes you want to get up out of your chair and dance! ‘Watch Your Heart’ showcases KM’s vocals, a slow burner where the first half shows off his lower register, then it soars on the latter half. There is a mid-section of songs that makes me sit up as they are co-written with Chris Stapleton amongst others. ‘Untangle My Mind’ with its honky-tonk piano transports me to ‘Bobs Country Bunker’ chock full of beer-swillers and whiskey drinkers.

‘Tryin’ Not To Love You’ I think will be a big hit for Marvell. It covers all the bases by a ‘country mile’ (yup, that was intentional). ‘Hurtin’ Gets Hard’ is a country ballad that sticks its head above the others on this record. Complete with harmonies from Melonie Cannon, they work together really nicely, just like Mr & Mrs Stapleton. ‘Closer To Hell’ is sung with enough tongue-in-cheek ‘so I started confessing, and he started sweating till he had to get up and leave, I guess the preacher agrees...’. ‘That Seat’s Saved’ finished the originals with a pure bottled country track, steel gee-tar, spoken word and all, sung about a love waiting to return ‘sit anywhere you want to, mister, anywhere but there….it’ll have her name on it till I don’t have a prayer’. It will have aficionados crying into their beers for sure. The final track is a more upbeat note, a cover of a classic from Charlie Daniels ‘Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye’ (Feat. Jamey Johnson)

Kendell clearly has some friends in very high places – most of whom have turned out to play on this album, and he has used them to great effect. If you think county is a bit ‘samey’ and jaded, then look at Kendell, he is trying to break free of the chains. He is cut from the same cloth as some of the greats. Whilst he is no spring chicken, he has an even greater future ahead of him as a performer. There’s enough variation on offer here to keep a wide ranging country fan invested, both classic and modern country.

I'm just pissed off that I only found out about him this week, just one week after he has toured the UK with Brothers Osborne. Dayum.

Score 9/10

Tracks – (Are there no words ending in ‘g’ in country??)
Lowdown & Lonesome
Gypsy Woman
Heartache Off My Back
Watch Your Heart
Untangle My Mind
Tryin’ Not To Love You
Hurtin’ Gets Hard
Closer To Hell
That Seat’s Saved
Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye (Feat. Jamey Johnson)


Thursday, 17 May 2018

Hartmann - 'Hands On The Wheel' Album Review

Hands On The Wheel : Hartmann

Review by HollywoodVampyre

Hartmann burst on to the hard rock scene in 2005 with their well received debut album 'Out In The Cold', since then the band have worked tirelessly releasing an impressive 6 albums consisting of 1 live and 5 studio albums the last being 2016’s 'Shadows And Silhouettes'.  When not in the studio the band were busy building an impressive touring resume playing with the likes of Toto,Y&T  and House Of Lords.

Jumping forward to 2018 and Hartmann are getting ready to unleash their latest album 'Hands On The Wheel'. 

In my opinion 'Hands on The Wheel' is for the most part an excellent album but I felt that there was something missing. 'Don’t Want Back Down' is an excellent  opener and sets the tone for the majority of the album, 'Your Best Excuse' and 'Cold As Stone' are solid rock anthems that will have you reaching for the volume and introducing your neighbours to the band. 'Simple Man' is an extremely well put together track and the opening actually sent shivers down my spine. 'Last Plane Out' will transport you back in time to the late 80’s early 90’s when poodle perms and leather trousers were all the rage. 

The next track however is where things seem to go south, 'Soulmates' is a song that when played live will have lighters in the air but I found it extremely dull and sleep inducing however hearing the opening of 'The Harder They Come' soon pulled me out of the stupor, it’s the type of track that makes you sit up and start pumping your fist in time, 'Dream World' carries on in the same vein and will have you screaming 'Dream World' at the top of your lungs. 'I Remember' and 'Lost In Translation' were decent enough tracks however they just don’t belong on this album, listening to them actually made me think of Queensryche’s Empire. 'The Sky Is Falling' is a typical power ballad with a steady build up before the soaring vocals and would have been an excellent closer to this album but sadly that was left to 'Heart Of Gold', just like 'Soulmates', 'Heart Of Gold' is a lighter waving ballad but just like 'Soulmates' I found it extremely boring.

'Hands On The Wheel' gets a solid 7/10 it’s a good album just not as good as their earlier material.

Hartmann Are:
Oliver Hartmann vocals, guitar
Mario Reck guitar
Armin Donderer bass
Markus Kullmann drums
Jimmy Kresic additional keyboards



Monday, 7 May 2018

Rose Tattoo - 'Blood Brothers' Review



Rose Tattoo will be kicking off their Blood Brothers 2018 tour at the end of March with the 2018 bonus re-issue edition of their classic 2007 album set for release on 18th May through Golden Robot Records. 
The re-issue features killer live versions of some of the albums finest tracks, including Man About Town, Black Eyed Bruiser, Once in A Lifetime, Sweat Meat, Standover Man and Nothing to Lose recorded live in all their glory and captured on disc. This is the Tats at their best. Raw, rough and ready for a fight, but also tight as a fist and sounding bigger than ever.
Opening track ‘Black Eyed Bruiser’ is a very welcomed mixture of The Kinks ‘You really got me’ with vocals reminiscent of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson. Having never heard Rose Tattoo before, that’s the first thing that hit me. A great opening track. Proper Rock. And this continues into ‘Slipping Away’, an Aerosmith type rock n roll classic with some nice slides.
The album progresses into ‘Once in A Lifetime’, which has a fantastic drop chord for the chorus that keeps it chugging along just nicely. This is proper driving rock, with the window down, arm out.
I’m hearing lots of bands from my teenage days here. AC/DC, Aerosmith, Thunder, Kiss, even Little Angels to an extent. All of which make this album more enjoyable as it rolls on. ‘City Blues’ is a nice, dark, crawler of a song which slows the album down a touch, and probably at the right time too, concentrating on some more nice slide work and clever guitar riffs, which allows ‘Sweet Meat’ to unleash it’s opening chords with venom. This is a classic rock and blues number with a killer riff. ‘Man About Town’ has a Kiss ‘Cold Gin’ feel to it which works well. What’s great about Rose Tattoo is that when a lot of these songs start, your initial impression is that the song is just ‘ok’, but as each chorus kicks in, it changes everything. They become really good songs. ‘Nothing To Lose’ is probably the weakest song on the album in my opinion. Not much going on in this song to be fair, nothing that really stands out and makes me take notice, which is why I’m surprised that this was chosen as one of the bonus live tracks. The album concludes with six live tracks from the album which capture the live element of the band really well. A good addition to this re-issue.
Fans of AC/DC, Aerosmith etc will love this album. It’s a great rock and roll album, but slightly lacking in originality but enjoyable none the less.

Score 7/10

Reviewed by Sty

Track Listing

1 – Black Eyed Bruiser
2 – Slipping Away
3 – Once In A Lifetime
4 – 1854
5 – City Blues
6 – Sweet Meat
7 – Man About Town
8 – Creeper
9 – Stand Over Man
10 – Nothing To Lose
11 – Lubricated
12 – Man About Town (Live)
13 – Black Eyed Bruiser (Live)
14 – Once In A Lifetime (Live)
15 – Sweet Meat (Live)
16 – Standover Man (Live)
17 – Nothing To Lose (Live)



Saturday, 5 May 2018

Paul Henshaw and the Scientific Simpletons - 'Fishing For Owls' Unsigned Band

Paul Henshaw is a RIOT FOLK singer songwriter living on the North Wales coast who pretty much spends his life thumping lumps out of his guitar and singing about life, hangovers and anything else he's passionate about.
Paul and his band (THE SCIENTIFIC SIMPLETONS) have shared festival stages with the likes of THE LEVELLERS, THE FEELING, UB40, FUN LOVIN' CRIMINALS HUEY MORGAN, FEROCIOUS DOG, THE ORB, NICK PARKER and NEWTON FAULKNER and solo has played festivals and venues in the USA, China, Taiwan, Germany, Poland, France and CZ Republic.
Written by Paul and released with the band, May 2017's album FISHING FOR OWLS reached NUMBER 1 in The Amazon Album download charts and the singles "STONES" and "FAY'S SONG" Reached #1 and #3 respectively.
Paul is currently finalizing a run of shows in Europe, The USA and Canada for the 2nd half of 2018.
I’ve got to know Paul over the last couple of months through the power of social media. And although I’ve never met him, I envy his desire and hunger to play at all costs wherever it may be. Across the whole of North Wales in one day on an open top Double Decker bus, to his upcoming shows abroad in amazing places such as Holland and Germany, to open mike nights in locals. There’s got to be something special here, so I’ve saved my best bottle of gin and pack of dry roasted for this one.
The album kicks in superbly with a nice heavy riff as ‘Middle Finger Thank You’ introduces itself. It’s got a dark feel to it, the kind of music I loved listening to in bed when younger with the lights out. I’m enjoying the lazy chorus chords. They work really well. Great opening track.
As ‘Wild Turkey’ kicks in, my initial reaction was to warp back in time to Aerosmith’s pump album, to the hidden track at the very end of the album after ‘What It Takes’. This has the trademark Irish folk feel to it with some great lyrics and is a truly uplifting song.
‘Stones’ comes a little too early in the album for me, as I was just getting into the swing of this superb uplifting stuff and then I’m brought back down with this moody, ambling number. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great track, just at the wrong time for me. ‘You Really Just Want To Be Me’ is littered with some amazing harmonizing in a superb chorus. A typical Irish based song that breaks out into whatever it feels like doing and it works brilliantly. I can imagine this track being an absolute floor filler at a summer festival. Love it.
‘Hometown King’ is another tune that rocks and ambles along. It’s uplifting, satisfying, and makes you want to hit the repeat button. ‘Fay’s Song’ has suddenly made me realize that Paul is very clever in the way he’s telling us a story in each song. Some people will realize, some wont. I just have. ‘Quiet Bit / Loud it’ comes as a bit of a surprise with its Nirvana style opening riff. This song takes the album into a totally different direction in such a way that it almost sounds like a different band playing it. But as this album goes on, I’m learning that this diversity is Paul’s trump card, his ace of the pack.
There’s some great bass at the start of ‘Float Me’, followed by some angry lyrics, which keep you sucked in to listen to what Paul has to say. ‘Kid on A Bridge’ comes at the perfect time in the album. A slower number and I’m sure I’m hearing shades of The Corrs here?? Nowt wrong with that. The calm before the storm. And so, it’s proved. ‘I’ll Never Be A Pirate’ is an absolute masterpiece of pure Irish foot stomping brilliance. A fulfilling tune with its own story and a mouth opening smile at the end brought on by Paul’s superb lyrics. The way this song ends just epitomizes the whole album. It’s been an absolute pleasure. When listening to unsigned artists, you can hear the quality, the potential that’s there. This is it. End of. Paul has explained to me that this album was recorded under his terms and on a budget. If these tracks were recorded with a massive budget and projected into the public eye, we would be looking at a star. I do have one slight issue though:
Paul, if you need a bass player in the future, let me know, Love Sty xx
Score 9/10

Reviewed by Sty

Track Listing

1 – Middle Finger Thank You
2 – Wild Turkey
3 – Stones
4 – You Really Just Want To Be Me
5 – Hometown King
6 – Fay’s Song
7 – Quiet Bit / Loud Bit
8 – Float Me
9 – Kid On A Bridge
10 – I’ll Never Be A Pirate


www.paulhenshaw.com
www.facebook.com/paulhenshawmusic
www.twitter.com/henshawmusic
scientificsimpletons@gmail.com

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Crapsons - Tudno FM Review - Unsigned Band



Formed in Birkenhead in January and live on the radio in April! – Crapsons are one of a clutch of incredible bands who have emerged around the Liverpool Calling scene. Mike from the band has kindly allowed me to review the guys recent live radio session on Tudno FM, which is a radio station based in Llandudno, and compared by the legend that is Mr Neil Crud.

Well, what can I say. ’Checking In To A&E’ is just a melee of anger and melodic noise which just can’t help but bring a smile to your face. And lyrically it’s all true!! People checking into A&E then putting it on Facebook looking for sympathy. Even though this is a live session the individual sounds are spot on and this creates a great platform for the songs. ‘Kings Of The Council Estate’ is just superb, maybe not musically, but lyrically an absolute classic. It’s just simple stuff but it’s done in such a way that just makes you laugh, smile, and basically get sucked in to Crapsons way of thinking.

‘Scallies’ is another observation of British youth, which leads us to ‘Rapunzel’. Such a great opening riff, and the lyrics just suck you in straight away. I love how each song tells a story, in an angry way, brilliant.

‘You Don’t Know When Your Going To Die’ is pure brilliance. The way it’s constructed lyricaly against the music is genius. I really think these guys are going to big on the North West circuit, and I can’t personally wait to play with these guys on 09/08/18 in North Bar Rhyl. A breath of fresh air. #excited.


Score 8/10

Reviewed by Sty

Track Listing

1 – Checking-In To A&E
2 – Kings Of The Council Estate
3 – Scallies
4 – Rapunzel
5 - YDKWYGTD


Line-Up

Mike Markey (Bass/Vocals) – Andy Gilbert (Drums)