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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 31 July 2013

KingBathmat - Overcoming The Monster Album Review

Late last year I had the great pleasure of Reviewing the last album from King Bathmat, their sixth! Just a few months later, hot on the heels of Truth Button (released only in Jan),  comes ‘Overcoming the Monster’.

 "Overcoming The Monster" deals with the theme of psychological obstacles (monsters of the mind) that are manufactured in our thoughts, both internally through our insecurities, externally by the outside influence of others and collectively through the mass media which uses fear as a tool to manipulate our perceptions. "Overcoming The Monster" addresses the need to ignore these clandestine forms of control and rise above the Illusory obstacles that are placed in our path in order to deliberately block opportunities that should be accessible to everybody.
As was the case with Truth Button, King Bathmat throw everything at the listener, - sink, worktops, cutlery, even the taps and the Bathmat, in a musical fusion of sounds, textures and genres such as Progressive Rock, Grunge, Psychedelia and Experimental Rock to concoct
a vibrant intoxicating brew of complex, intricate melodies and heavy bludgeoning
riffs all contained within a running time of approximately 50 short minutes.
Sentinel for examples starts off all subdued like a Storm Corrosion/ Steven Wilson vibe, before letting a cross between STP and Alice in Chains rip into you. Its compelling stuff indeed! ‘Parasomnia’ is a sleep disorder that involves abnormal and unnatural movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, and dreams that occur while falling asleep, sleeping, between sleep stages, or during arousal from sleep! I can tell you now, Ive not bee so excited by a prog band in quite some time like this one. It starts off as a calming 70s psychadelic piece, before upping the tempo considerably to a more 2112 Rush era rock piece with the Foo Fighters thrown in for good measure. These boys are not your run of the mill Prog band. ‘Superfluous’  has the elements of grunge from the likes of AIC and also nods in the direction if modern prod like Dream Theater. ‘Reality Mining’ is a single contender, mainly because it’s the only bugger under 5 mins

KingBathmat really are a clever band, possibly a bit too clever for their own good. But I don’t care, as they are one of the most diverse and refreshing prog/experimental bands to come out of the UK in some time

I really hope that King Bathmat get the opportunity to get on a couple of decent tours this years because they deserve their music to be heard by a greater number of people. They are one of THE best bands you’ve never heard…..YET! I honestly feel that strongly about KingBathmat that I wish I was in the position to offer anyone a money back guarantee, but Victor Kiam I ain’t

Overcoming The Monster
Reality Mining
Kubrick Moon

Planet Rock's Steelhouse Festival - Day Two, Sat 28th July, Hafod Y Dafal Farm

Day 2 started off in a similar vein. Sunshine followed by bouts of intermittent monsoons. Again day 2 was kicked off by a band voted on by listeners to a Facebook & Twitter/YouTube Battle of the Bands competition. Blackbyrd, hail from just down the road, and it must be something in the water, as singer Phil possesses a great set of pipes, much better than the songs you can find on their site, with their voted song, ‘Day Of Reckoning’ the stand out track of their set and a nice sing-a-long from the fans to get the crowd warmed up. Apparently Phil has ditched the guitar to concentrate on his singing, and by the sound of him, its bloody well worked a treat. One to look out for methinks in the future

 I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing Skam before, and boy have they gone up a notch since then. This was their very last gig in support of their debut (well worth the £10 of anyone’s money) and the Leicester 3 piece pulled out all the stops. Bassist Matt Gilmore deserves an extra special mention, as the guy is a bonafide nutcase on the bass. He pulls shapes, moves like a maniac, and when the road crew for the even start coming from behind to view from the side and laugh, clap, and smile, then you know you’re onto a winner. Skam are destined for greater things Im sure, and with songs about penises (‘Weapon), and anthems with killer hooks like ‘Dead From The Waist Down’ (I think another song about penises), and a new belter called “From The Bottom Up” ( I think there’s a trend going on here guys!). Finishing the set with their best song ‘Massacre’, starting off with a dark Sabbath riff before kicking you in the nuts with such ferocity it feels like a 5 piece. I don’t want to big them up but their meet n greet queue was about 5x the size of Anvil’s (and about 50x of Schenker’s). See I told you the Welsh fest revelers know a good band when they see one

I could have sworn that Trucker Diablo were Southern US rockers, but they have their roots planted in Northern Ireland, hopefully the deep south of N.I. Opener ‘Rebel’ is as good as anything BSC have come up with, and is a powerful tour de force of an opener, getting the crowd well and truly on their side from the off. They possess a bit more oomph than BSC, and have a bit of raw power thrown in like Alter Bridge just for the fun of it. ‘Whens It Gonna Rain’ is as equally a stunner as the opener, and new single ‘Drive’ proves that TD are definitely on the way up in the world, and anyone that has a song like ‘Drink, Beer, Destroy’ is a winner in my books, and just like The Temperance Movement they were one of the talked about bands of the day. No ballads to see here just out and out rock n roll

Vega are gaining a reputation as one up the new wave of melodic rock batton holders for the UK. Never one to shy away from an anthem, Bros Martin have their pens set to Def leppard Hysteria mode, and what with modern beauties like ‘What The Hell’, ‘Back To Life’ and ‘White Knuckle Ride’, Vega set their phasers to stun mode. New guitarist Daniel Johanssen got a run out and fits in very nicely adding vocals to an already full on wall of sound. Nick works the crowd extremely well and is proving to be a really decent front man. Not a great deal to say other than spot on, and as good as ever!

Heaven’s Basement are a completely different proposition to when I last saw them play my local in Wrexham a couple of few years back. I have to say it’s a change for the better. Not so much polished now, as some of the set is like being repeatedly hit in the back of the head with a nail gun. In a good way of course! Here to promote (and batter us) with a set mainly from their latest album which is a belter by the way, as they proved with the furious opener ‘Welcome Home’. Throughout the course of the gig, singer Aaron Buchanan is an absolute livewire, think Tasmanian Devil only with a better singing voice. God only knows how he can keep up that noise and tempo for a full set. ‘Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch’ (Ballad lads?) and the full on metal assault of ‘I Am Electric’ really got the crowd buzzing. I hoe they now get a settled line up as this one deserves its day in the sun

It’s like going from dark to light, from HB to Snakecharmer who, play a very different kind of music to the previous whippersnappers. Drawing on music from their debut and with some Whitesnake classics thrown in to boot, Messers Moody, Ousey, Murrayj James, Wisefield, and in for the day Stanway, they provide probably the most polished and classy set of the day. Ousey's voice is just something else, from such a small frame comes this soulful boom. Yes the fans really appreciate the new songs – ‘Guilty as Charged’, ‘Accident Prone’, ‘Nothing To Lose’ etc, but its when the Whitesnake classics come in that they get truly excited and becomes a sea of a Welsh choir. ‘Ready an Willing’, ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’ (this one in particular is a very nice version). Moody does his Steel Geetar solo, and its hardly changed since I first saw Whitesnake back in 82 (my first ever gig!). The best was saved until last, ‘Slow an Easy’, followed by a torrential downpour which saw a lot of the crowd vacate to the beer tent. But it made for one of the best moments of the weekend…when the intro played for ‘Here I Go Again’, the whole beer tent erupted and sang along as one, for one of those moments you will carry forever, before they finally finished with ‘Fool For Your Lovin.’

Magnum at this point were running rather late. I used to be a fan in the 80s, but the reformed stuff of recent years has completely passed me by. Which is a shame, as I hardly knew the first half of the set. They obviously had a fair few fans of their own at the event as there was lots of singing along and people mimicking pointy Bob. If only he had a pound for every time he pointed, he’d be a multi millionaire! For me it was all about the classics, ‘How far Jerusalem’, running back from the bar for ‘Vigilante’, and they even managed to fit in an encore for ‘Days Of No Trust’ and the underrated ‘Rockin Chair’. Years ago, they nearly broke away and became huge, but despite this, Magnum still put on a hell of a show.

Michael Schenker a few years ago couldn’t probably get arrested. Whereas the last couple of year has seen a true return to form, tonight was the very last night of their extensive ‘Temple Of Rock & Lovedrive Reunion’ tour, and bugger me, they weren’t half on form. A fine line up consisting of Ex-Scorps Rarebell and Bucholz, and multi instrumentalist Wayne Findlay and Doogie White. No messing around from the guys, straight into ‘Lovedrive’ with White proving to be a fine replacement for Mogg, Meine and Barden. All previous Schenker bands were included – Scorpions, MSG, UFO, and even a couple of songs from the current line up – a tribute to Ronnie in ‘Before The Devil Knows Your Name’. I was never a massive UFO fan, my fave album is ‘The Wild The Willing & The Innocent’, so I suppose I don’t count as a UFO officionado at all. The classic UFO songbook was played, ‘Shoot, Shoot’, ‘Only You…’, ‘Let It Roll’, ‘Too Hot…’, ‘Lights Out’, and ‘Rock Bottom’. Obviously they hit the spot with the 2 blokes next to me as they both went mental. Me, I loved the instrumental renditions of ‘Coast to Coast’ and ‘Into The Arena’, and a couple of MSG classics such as ‘Armed & Ready’ and Attack Of The Mad Axeman’ which I haven’t heard live in almost 30 years!! Shit dudes, they even played the MSG underrated ‘Assault Attack’. Unlike Saxon, there was no frills, lights, pyro, just full on rock classics spanning a total of 30-odd years. Long may he continue to play, because it was fan-fuckin-tastic!

So, two great days spent with a great bunch of people, met friends, made some new ones, and, despite the shite weather I cant wait until the next one. Despite missing my 2 wedding anniversary on the trot (23 yrs - O think its Ker-plunk for 23??) Im still married. Sarah, Sally-Ann can I suggest a weekend either side of this next year please??

Photos courtesy of Michelle French

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Planet Rock's Steelhouse Festival - Day One, Sat 27th July, Hafod Y Dafal Farm

2013 sees the second Steelhouse Festival situated in one of the finest places on Gods Earth.....Wales! High on a mountain top on the edge of the Brecon Beacons (Aberbeeg), Steelhouse boasts the highest festival in Europe, and probably one of the nicest organised and atmospheric. For atmospheric, read torrential rain!

A great little site, with camping set aside for the usual nutters, and family area, complete with hot showers and toilet facilities with a host of food, and more importantly beer outlets

After a great evening in the sun and getting rat-arsed on the Friday night, the weather (rain ranging from drenching to the Welsh version of a Tsunami) totally kicked in and stayed there for the remainder of the event. First of all a couple of bands literally had their day in the sun...

First band up. Fireroad. With their very infectious blend of blues and rock they certainly were a popular choice, voted onto the Fest by listeners to a Facebook & Twitter/YouTube Battle of the Bands competition. See, rock fans do do what they are talking about. With songs like 'Your Summer Sun'  which was Record of the Week on Radio Wales, and their new single and is a great slice of a driving rock tune. For some reason singer Richard Jones hates Before The Matinee and never wants to play it again. Don't worry but, Im sure that Axl feels the same way about 'Paradise'! Judging by the amount of nodding heads, Fireroads objective was well and truly achieved.

With festivals its hard to please everyone and the mix can please everyone. That can be said for me with Dead Shed Jokers and Fighting Wolves. Not that there was anything wrong with them as the audience gave great responses. In the case of DSJ they were bit too indie for my liking, and FW were too shouty but thats just me I'm afraid.

In the case of Hand of Dimes, they were the first band to really make me sit up and take notice. A reunion of ex-members of Welsh cult AOR-sters Kooga.  Singer Nev Macdonald has a voice that deserves to be heard on a wider scale, even more than his Skin following. With proper anthems, like ‘Looking At You’, and ‘Stranger In My Home Town’, these guys got the first big roar of the day. Fantastic band, and even greater singer.

The Temperance Movement turned out to be one of the best new bands I’ve heard in quite some time. Think 'The Black Crowes' only better in my opinion, bloody better. In singer Phil Campbell, they have a bloke who is both mesmerizing and engaging, with a set of pipes to die for. Couple this with the rest of the guys and The Temperance Movement will be playing the like of arenas in no time. Songs like ‘Know For Sure’ got the audience involved on a shite day, and the band jam on ‘Smouldering’ was just wonderful. It doesn’t stop there, ‘Pride’ and ‘Aint No Telling’ were just mesmerizing, and I for one didn’t want them to end. For my mates (and no doubts many others) they were the hot band of the day. One word review….Wow!

Anvil, were at the beginning of thrash one of the founder members. Yes, others have come and left them running behind, and theres probably a good reason for that, but what they lack in quality of some of the songs, they make up in Goddamn enthusiasm, and in Robb Reiner they have one of the finest drummers of his generation – just watch him go on Swing Thing. Classics like Mothra, 66 and Metal on Metal were banded out along with newer songs like This is Thirteen, and Badass Rock n roll. Yes they are as corny as a tin of Jolly Green Giant, but they are well loved

The few that know me are aware that FM are probably my fave band of the last 25 years. These reviews of theirs tend to write themselves. Only FM at this point could stop me from jacking it all in and going back to the car, or home, as I was as wet as a dolphins armpit and spirits were well and truly sodden. Steve Overland undoubdtedly has one of the best voices in the business, and when he warbles his ‘whoa-oohs’ women (and me to be honest) get goosebumps. Classic both quite old – That Girl, and I Belong To The night, and new classics such as the magnificent Crosstown Train, and quite heavy for FM…Wildside, pair up extremely well and I think that FM are definitely in the best shape of their 26 year career. Whereas Magnum would be allowed an encore in the same slot on Sunday, for some reason FM didn’t or weren’t allowed to. Never mind, they are still THE finest at their craft in offering polished and well crafted songs. Catch them on Radio 2 and of course Planet Rock!

Headliners Saxon are a different proposition. One of the founders of the NWOBHM they tended to lose their way a bit in the 90s for no fault of their own I might add. On this evidence, Saxon were firing on all cylinders, and have years and miles left in the tank should they want to. The ‘Eagle’ got its first UK outing in 20 years, and even without all the lights, pyro, Saxon would have still kicked arse! Biff Byford, despite being a young 62 has a great a voice as he ever did, and he’s spritely for his age! The new album, Sacrifice got some airing early one, but the icing for me was the latter half which was peppered with Metal anthems from Saxons great history. 747, Strong Arm Of The Law and a stunning blast of Dallas 1pm was the absolute highlight for me. Biff won the award for best into for a song…”This one’s made of steel…and it’s got fuckin’ wheels on it!” Crusade, Denim and leather and finally Princess of the Night made up the encore and it will stay with me for quite some time. And the whole thing was being filmed for ‘The Saxon Chronicles 2’. My mate said that Saxon haven’t done a bad gig in 30 years. Do you know what, he’s spot on!

I sware I could write a travel blog just covering the antics of the boys over the course of the weekend! Sleeping in a field after the gig had finished, spending £65 for the weekend only to sleep thru most of it. Bringing Welsh delicacy Pot Noodle and Smash only forgetting to bring a kettle, and drunken bastards falling thru my tent, but giving me one of the best weekends in years!

Despite the weather the organisers deserve a big pat on the back for putting on a great set of bands and organising the best festival I've attended in yonks! Long may Steelhouse continue

Day 2 to follow soon!

Saturday 20 July 2013

Newman - Siren Album Review

I think that Steve Newman is definitely one of the good guys of Melodic Rock. He was the star of the cack-fest that was 'ZRock' last year, and I’m always interested to see what the talented bloke has up his sleeve at every new opportunity. Basically the guys a machine, and I think he’s a Man U fan as I am certain he only comes out with an album when the twats win the premier league. Which in terms of music, is goddamn prolific!!!

For starters the album cover is a bit of a belter. It takes me back to the 80’s when many a purchase was completed solely on the quality of the cover. Some turned out to be shite, but Siren is anything but. After living with this for just over a week now, the album gets better with every passing spin and I cant stop playing or singing the bugger!

Siren is definitely the AOR equivalent of (insert you pleasurable experience here _______) mine’s having an AOR Rock Goddess rubbing me down with a wet flannel! (You know who you are). It just ticks all the boxes and is one anthem after another. 

‘Take It All’ is an ablsolute belter. Heavier than his norm, with a classic riff, and ultra sing-able chorus. ‘Had Enough’ is definitely a future classic and stands alongside any AOR gem from the last 30-odd years. Its has hints of Foreigner, Mr.Big, with some real quality vocals from Steve Newman. ‘Arcadia’ is a little mellower than the previous but again is dragged above the competition with a finely constructed tune and another top mutts nutts chorus!

‘Another Bitch Of A Night’ is so Whitesnake 87 era, I expect a certain Mr Coverdale to be chippin' in with the vocals to 'Still Of The Night'. Robert Säll of WOA & WET contributes guitar to ‘Feel Her Again’ and makes it more of a WET sounding than a Newman song. Newmans lyrics are more thought provoking than many a rival, and becomes more than just AOR by numbers. ‘When It Comes To Loves ‘ is a collaboration with Vega’s Nick Workman, who also contributes backing vocals, and is an 80s old school rock ballad

Steve Newman’s vocals are some of the finest I've heard in some time, both from himself, and from anyone else! It must be something to do with the name ‘Steve!’. He has nailed the production of Siren, focusing purely on quality. Despite all the friends and collaborators involved, this is still clearly the Newman show. It's not standard fare Melodic Rock, instead it’s heavier with more of a purpose and edge, and thoroughly deserves to pick up some new fans along the way.

I prefer to label this as ‘Classic Rock’ rather than AOR/Melodic Rock, as I’m positive that Siren is a future Classic Rock album. Not only is it one of Steve’s finest it just stands head and shoulders above many an effort the past couple of years

Score – 95/100

Band Line Up On this album:

Steve Newman- Vocals, Guitar, and Keyboards
Rob McEwen- Drums & Percussion
Shaun Bessant- Lead Guitar on “When It Comes To Love”
Robert Säll
- Lead Guitar on “Feel Her Again”

Live band:
Steve Newman - Vocals, Guitar
Shaun Bessant - Guitar, Vocals
Paul Boyle - Keyboards, Vocals
Pete Newdeck - Drums, Vocals

Track Listing:

01 Scar Of Love
02 Had Enough
03 Arcadia
04 Another Bitch Of A Night
05 Feel Her Again
06 Some Kind Of Wonderful
07 Siren
08 When It Comes To Love
09 Crossfire
10 Waiting For The Day
11 The Foolish One
12 Don’t Know Why


Sunday 14 July 2013

Mystery - 2013 Album Review


I love it when bands love the very same music that I’ve loved for the past 30-odd years. Especially when its done by basically what is a bunch of kids not long out of nappies! If you love bands like Dio, Twisted Sister, WASP etc etc, then really look not further than Mystery. It’s classic 80’s hard rock from the youngest international touring band from Australia. Produced by Stu Marshall (Death Dealer, Dungeon, and the marvellous Empires of Eden), the album combines the sounds of those above aforementioned bands, and they will not be a Mystery for long! 

The band formed officially at the very beginning of 2010 after thirteen (!!) year old Rocky Ravic met twelve (!!!!!) year old Tony Mlikota. Rocky was then introduced to twelve year old Kris Laccino who was a school friend of Tony. Kris and Tony would jam together and formed their very own band MYSTERY. In the latter part of 2010, twelve year old Josh Scarpaci completed the line-up. Only several weeks later the band performed their debut show at CroktoberFest in Melbourne.

 In late 2010, MYSTERY recorded their first demo single ‘Rock’n’Roll Forever Be’ which was mixed by internationally renowned Stu Marshall of DEATH DEALER. He was so impressed that he offered to produce a debut album for the teenage band.

The band started the recordings in late 2011, after filming a professional music video for their first single which was Co-Directed by the prominant Filmmakers Steve Ravic of Majestic Film and Hollywood based motion picture maker Neil Johnson. The professional approach was justified with their extremely successful back to back live shows in November 2011 on the main stage at Federation Square in the centre of the city of Melbourne.
In 2012 the band played some big festivals in Europe with bands like MANOWAR and NIGHTWISH as well as a few club shows in Germany and the US!

In spring 2013 Mystery toured Japan with bands like AT VANCE, KISSIN’ DYNAMITE and JADED HEART followed by a tour in the US in May, where they played the famous Rocklahoma Festival (GUNS N’ ROSES, ALICE IN CHAINS and more) besides several club shows.
They have the image, the right mentor in Marshall, but do they have the music to go with it? 

Well, for a bunch of (hardly) teenagers, they are pretty damned good. Whilst the music is nowhere near perfect, they have the swagger and attitude than many an established band wished they had, and then some! Its more ‘sleaze-rock than outright metal, and Mystery come across more Faster Pussycat and Hanoi Rocks than Quiet Riot. In saying that, on the very first listen they piss all over Faster Pussycat were in their alleged heyday

With songs like the riff-tastic ‘Raise Your Fist’ which is as anthemic as Twisted Sister ever got, to the Motley Crue musings of ‘Freedom’ Ravic and the lads have gotten themselves off to a great start. Where Metal is more about the attitude, Mystery have this in spades, whilst not the greatest singer out there, I’m certain Rocky Ravic will progress to do some decent things in the years to come. I’m certainly impressed with the playing from all concerned as all play like pro’s, with the guitar work particularly of note

Mystery throw in a couple of homage’s/covers at the end, with Dio’s ‘Stand Up And Shout’ an impressive version of one of my all time fave song’s (well done lads!), and a metalled up version of the Aussie fave, Men At Work’s ‘Land Down Under’ given the works.

Mystery have a very bright future in front of them. Once they knuckle down and get a bit more wisdom and experience under their belt, they will be a force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen the future, and its no Mystery as to who will fronting Aussie rock for years to come

If I was any of these kids dad, I would be very fucking proud indeed, and I can’t give them a better reference than that

Score 70/100


2013: A New Dawn
Raise Your Fist
Nonstop To Nowhere
Test Of Time
On Fire
Rock 'n' Roll Forever Be
Lost In Time
Stand Up And Shout 
Land Down Under

Rocky Ravic – Vocals & Guitar
Kris Iaccino – Guitar
Josh Scarpaci – Bass
Tony Mlikota – Drums

2013 (2013)