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!!!

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics - 'The Man With Stars On His Knees' Album Review


Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics – The Man With Stars On His Knees
I always love it when a band I’ve never previously heard of just blows me away. These occurrences are not too frequent, but when you encounter Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics at HRH AOR come out and rip the place apart, you know when ‘special’ really means SPECIAL. I was unprepared for the human explosion that is Buchanan. A whirlwind of energy and seems like he has either a death wish or good healthcare insurance as he seems hell-bent on doing time in Stoke Mandeville hospital for some sort of spinal injury! Whilst they are nowhere near an AOR band, I welcomed their appearance, as they were one of just a couple of bands that took the place by storm. It was only when they played a couple of songs by Heavens basement that I managed to put 2+2 together. Of course. Whilst HB dallied around for quite some time, I think now Buchanan has his own vehicle to display his considerable talent, he will eclipse anything that HB have done, and lots, lots more.

A definite Rising Star award, or New Band award should have been in abundance in for them the last 2 years.
Backtrack to 2015 and Buchanan bailed out of HB and straight into the studio with producer James Curtis-Thomas, guitarist Ryan Woods, and sister and guitarist Laurie Buchanan. Prior to this, Curtis-Thomas and Buchanan had spoken a lot about producing a record with deep, mature and colourful content.
Their debut album, the strangely, but excellently named, ‘The Man With Stars On His Knees’ hit the digital stands in '17. But fast-forward to 2019 and ABATCC have signed a deal with Listenable Records in France. So what we have is a Special Edition of the Debut with a couple of extra studio tracks on the vinyl, and an additional three live tracks on the CD.

Show Me What You’re Made Of is fairly short, and leads you into the album nicely, just as you expect a big crescendo, it ends (unfortunately) but only to lead into ‘All The Things You’ve Said And Done’ a powerful kick in the nuts song that demands your attention. Its full of attitude, swagger and a song for the masses. Its Queen/The Darkness meets Halestorm, and dare I mention them, Alter Bridge.

‘Dancin’ Down Below’ instantly grabs you. Its underlying riff and anthemic chorus leave you breathless. If you haven’t seen ABATCC, I can assure that he can keep this pace up for a whole gig, its not just clever production. You get tired just listening to them! ‘The Devil That Needs You’ is classic rock for two thirds, followed by a final third that is something the US Army would use to break down Terrorist cells in captivity. ‘Journey Out Of Here’ is about as poppy and ‘normal’ as they can be to mainstream (if Aaron can ever be called ‘normal’!?). It’s a nice build that is up-lifting in its composition and is both light and dark at the same time. If that makes sense? Title track, the wonderfully named, ‘The Man With Stars on His Knees’ takes you on a journey, and it’s a song that is sooo good it just belies belief. A modern anthem in the making. It pulls in influences from Kiss, to Mott, to ELO and lots in-between. Phew.

A God Is No Friend’ is a nice slow burn, with Buchanan sounding like Layne Staley and AIC. There’s some nice guitar work going on here, giving it plenty of atmosphere.  Still in a bit of an Alice In Chains moment ‘Left Me For Dead’ is a dirtier, grungier song than anything previous. I like the fact that there’s plenty of variation going on here and everything is precisely and deliberately in its place. ‘Mind Of A Mute’ is Soundgarden by any other name, and reminds me about the good bits of grunge and its ‘wear you down’ guitar riffage (that killed off all my hair metal bands in the early 90s!). ‘Morals’ is just grandiose, and revoked Freddie Mercury and Queen. So, that would have been it, but now we have a couple of new tracks fro the reissue. ‘Fire In The Fields Of Mayhem’ is a great song for a single release, and just sums up what ABATCC are all about. Finally we’re  at the sharp end with ‘Undertow’, and its verse draws you in for the guitar solo. Its probably the most diverse song from the rest, and its an opportunity to hear Buchanan just sing, and it’s a worthy closer.

Buchanan’s name is on the cover, but Aaron, Laurie Buchanan, Tom McCarthy, Paul White and Mart Trail, take a well-deserved bow.

If you want to take a punt on a new band you haven’t heard yet, I’d put all my money on Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics. Other bands take note, the bar was already high, this reissue has raised it further.

If you don’t like the album or his live show, I’m honestly tempted to say I’ll refund you myself.

9/10

Tracklisting
Show Me What You’re Made Of
All The Things You’ve Said And Done
Dancin’ Down Below
The Devil That Needs You
Journey Out Of Here
The Man With Stars On His Knees
A God Is No Friend
Left Me For Dead
Mind Of A Mute
Morals
Fire In The Fields Of Mayhem*
Undertow* (*exclusive studio bonus tracks)

Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics –
Aaron Buchanan – Vocals
Laurie Buchanan – Guitar
Tom McCarthy – Guitar
Mart Trail – Bass
Paul White - Drums


Thursday, 31 January 2019

Emerald Sabbath - 'Ninth Star' (A Tribute To Black Sabbath) Album Review


Emerald Sabbath – Ninth Star (A Tribute To Black Sabbath)

This is a tale of how an Irish Nuclear Construction Safety Inspector brought 10 ex members of Black Sabbath together along with The English Chamber Choir, AND a string quartet! All I can say is, Irish Nuclear Construction Safety Inspectors must get paid a shit load of money. After all, if you fuck up in a Nuclear Power plant it really is curtains.

The man is Michael Suilleabhain from West Cork, and he has been a fan of Black Sabbath since 1983, and has seen them a grand total of 82 times with every line up except with Ray Gillen. Well everyone needs a hobby!

The 10 ex-members are Adam Wakeman, Bev Bevan, Neil Murray, Terry Chimes, Laurence Cottle, Ron Keel, Vinny Appice, Dave Walker, Bobby Rondinelli, Tony Martin, along with Rudy Sarzo. If Sabbaths management don’t even recognize Dio, this group who kept Black Sabbath afloat when Iommi was the only original left, have no chance of recognition, so its good to see someone recognizing the Iommi years. The man has a passion for classical music and he wanted to bring both of them together, and for that he must be applauded.

In 2015 Adam Wakeman was the first to contribute to the project, with keyboards on ‘Changes’ and it snowballed into this final product. He decided to re-record Black Sabbath tracks and instrumentals with as many ex-members as possible. A lot of the artists played on the originals, and unless you are a Sabbath fanatic, then you wouldn’t even know of all the changes that took place in the mid to late eighties.

After a couple of listens, I think you do have to be of the made of the same stuff as Suilleabhain. Because I don’t see more mainstream rock fans picking this up. To give him full credit, on the instrumental tracks like ‘Embryo’ ‘Stonehenge’ and ‘Fluff’, the music is given added depth from the string quartet, and ‘Fluff’ in particular is a joy to listen to here.  The songs he has picked, in general definitely benefit from a classical and metal approach. In my opinion ‘more strings’ have never failed me when it comes to rock classics, re-recorded classics, or a live gig with a backing orchestra (i.e. Stargazer, Deep Purple, Alter Bridge, Metallica etc., etc.,).

I was (still am) a fan of 80s outfit Keel. The three songs on offer here; one each from Ozzy (Hole In The Sky), Gillan (Trashed), and Dio (Die Young) do not get any great benefit from Ron Keel’s vocals. Yes, I get it that he was in the band, but it would have been betting bringing in vocalists like Mike Mills (Toehider, for Gillan),  and Anders Engberg (Sorcerer, for Dio). Ozzy is the awkward one to find a doppelganger for as there really is only one Ozzy! ‘Die Young’ musically is note for note, but when Keel kicks in it’s all strained and, well, painful.  Lets face it, who can follow Ian Gillan. In fact, Keel gives it (Trashed) a good enough of a go, but it still left me wanting. ‘Hole In The Sky’ is no different.

I have to say that I am a big fan of tribute albums and covers. For me it needs to be either true to the original, or mixed up completely giving the song a new lease of life. I’ve heard enough since 1978 to form an honest opinion.

Dave Walker certainly holds his own for the Technical Ecstasy ballad ‘She’s Gone’, and this one is definitely worth a listen. Glenn Hughes isn’t called the ‘Voice Of Rock’ for no reason. Tony Martin who recorded a couple of fab Sabbath albums in ‘Headless Cross’ and ‘The Eternal Idol’ takes over from Hughes, and proves he can still cut the mustard. This is where they slipped up. Lee Small would have nailed this fucker 100%, then they could have re-recorded a Martin classic such as ‘The Shining’ in a different style, still utilizing Martin’s considerable chops.

‘Changes’ sees Suilleabhain take over vocal duties, and is left short of the original. The best track on the album by far, the fantastic ‘Supertzar’, and the choral English Chamber Choir ramp it up to eleven and give the original more than a run for its money.

For energy and enthusiasm I have to give full marks to Suilleabhain. However, a better choice of vocals and a couple of different songs could have taken this up a notch or three. If you’re not exactly an existing fan of Black Sabbath, there’s nothing really here for you. As a die hard fan, its definitely worth exploring.

Score 6.5/10

Review by Chesy

1. Embryo
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards
Bev Bevan – Drums
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Anneka Sutcliffe – Violin
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet

2. Die Young
Ron Keel – Vocals
Vinnie Appice – Drums
Rudy Sarzo – Bass
DC Cothern – Guitar
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Ellen Morgan – Keyboards

3. Fluff
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet
Ardeton String Quartet
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

4. Trashed
Ron Keel – Vocals
Vinnie Appice – Drums
Bev Bevan – Percussion
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

5. Stonehenge
Adam Wakeman – keyboards
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Sarah Tobias – Flute

6. She’s Gone
Dave walker – Vocals
Bill Dwyer – Guitars
Neil Murray – Bass
Chris Cundy – Keyboards
Steve Owers – Drums
Ardeton String Quasrtet
Lisa Ljungberg – Backing Vocals

7. In For The Kill
Tony Martin – Vocals
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards

8. Orchid
Neil Murray – Bass
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet
Ardeton String Quartet
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

9. Hole In The Sky
Ron Keel – Vocals
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

10. Changes
Michael Suilleabhain – Vocals
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards
Laurence Cottle – bass
Bev Bevan – Percussion
Queenie May – Backing Vocals
Anneka Sutcliffe – Violin
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet

11. Supertzar
English Chamber Choir
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards
Terry Chimes – Drums
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Skaila Kang – Harp
Elen Morgan - Glockenspiel








BillyBio - Rebellion Club, manchester, 29.1.19 Live Review


BillyBio – Rebellion Club – Manchester – 29-01-19

Billy Bio received 9/10 for his album ‘Feed The Fire’ which I reviewed back in November and rightly so. You can read the review here. An album of stunning quality which deserves all the acclaim it will get.

Tonight, in what used to be a pub many moons ago, the small yet massively unique Rebellion Club in Manchester once again hosts a quartet of bands with massive potential.

Firstly, OMV. A heavy punk rock/hardcore unit with bags of charisma on stage. Only Richie, the lead singer and founder of the Merseyside band has his face on show. The rest choose to stay concealed behind masks. Pretty cool. As for the music, this is a pure onslaught of angry hardcore with awesome speed changes. There’s lots of Pantera and Slayer knocking around within these guys. Well worth catching live if you can. A great start.

Next up were Sonnet 13. Manchester based, although singer Bartek and drummer Lukasz I believe are Dutch(?) These were very D.R.I/Mucky Pup to me. They had that late 80’s thrash punk shout to Bartek’s voice. This is my kind of era and the guys pulled off a worthy set.

Cutthroat LA earned my respect straight away by refusing to play until the crowd came forward. A great move I thought because it worked a treat. If any band could warm a crowd up nicely for BillyBio, it’s these guys. They got everyone involved from the start. Inciting mosh pits, getting fans on stage. Their interaction with their fans is nothing short of perfect. Using political issues to express their feelings, these guys really know how to deliver proper hardcore. Throw in some street rap/punk/thrash. These guys have it all.

And so to BillyBio. Words cannot describe what a stunning and powerful set this guy delivered tonight. Playing virtually everything from his latest ‘Feed the Fire’ album, we were also treated to some Biohazard classics in the form of ‘Shades Of Grey’, ‘How It Is’, ‘A Lot To Learn’, ‘Love Denied’ and ‘Punishment’. Throw in a cover of The Exploited’s ‘UK82’ and you have a set so powerful and true that the only bad thing about it was it went too fast.

Once again crowd interaction was a major part and everyone, indeed, played their part. What I find particularly impressive is that Billy wears a head mike which gives him so much more scope to move around and interact with the crowd.
Seeing such an iconic hardcore legend in such a small venue always gives me that shiver down my spine. Arenas are not for me. This is where music lives and breathes, in venues like The Rebellion club, with fantastic friendly people all looking out for each other. Long may it continue. And lets prey BillyBio returns soon.

Score – 10/10. All day long.

Reviewed by Sty

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Puppy - 'The Goat' Album Review


If you’re like me, and are completely unaware of who Puppy are, then stand in line for one the best new(ish) bands you haven’t heard of….yet! I sware that if you’re a fan of anything from the likes of Black Sabbath (heavy riffage to be heard a-plenty here folks), to Van Halen to Teenage Fanclub/ Coheed & Cambria (pop rock sensibilities), then you are in for a huge effin’ treat.

The threesome are made up of – Jock Norton (Vocals and guitar), Billy Howard Price (Drums), and Will Michael (bass), and their debut album, The Goat dropped 25th Jan, and its bloody fab!

From the album cover, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were about to hear some black/death/doom metal, but the reality is far from it. Yes, there are riffs that are some of the best of this side of Tony Iommi’s moustache, and so much melody, that you would think that you were listening to J-Pop, but the combination comes together to great effect. In fact it looks like it is the learners edition of ‘Everything You Need To About Alister Crowley’. With songs like ‘Bathe In Blood’, And So I Burn’, ‘Entombed’, I’I Feel An Evil’, ‘Entombed’ and ‘Demons’, your spider senses would certainly be tingling in an Occult leaning, but its not all true….the titles lead you toward death metal, but the reality is that Puppy reference a lot of your inner demons.



‘Black Hole’ comes menacing straight out of the blocks, and then its not quite the vocals you expect to hear, almost the opposite, but once you’re settled into this path then its all good, very good. The bridge also comes out of left field, its like they are following some magic 8-ball formula, that works! The riff to ‘Vengeance’ takes you right back to the 80s and bands like Anthrax, but with Coheed’s  pop vocals. ‘Poor Me’ sees Norton channel his inner Papa Emeritus/Cardinal Copia as it has the same deep and dark riff, but with a melody that could pierce the Top Ten chart easily.

‘And So I Burn’ plonks us back in 80s territory, with a riff that Ratt would be proud of. The song is carried along through Michaels pulsating bass and Prices’ drum beat. ‘Entombed’ kicks off with a nu-metal riff, before a hint of Alice In Chains style vocals and 70s guitar solo. ‘World Stands Still’ cranks it up to Mark Tremonti levels of riffing, with Prices drum beat pummeling you just because they can. ‘Bathe In Blood’ is riff upon riff chipping away at your sanity, with a prog tendancy. Its where genres collide and form a new one! ‘Nightwalker’ is the first song to give you a bit of a break. Its like a Kurt Cobain ballad. ‘I Feel An Evil’ sees Michael take over vocals and the result is more akin to a whole metal package, like Foo Fighters on steroids. All too soon and its onto the final track, ‘Demons’ an 80s chugging riff that Priest would be proud to have written




Think of all these bands that hit the charts early 90s, - Wheatus, Sum 41, Deftones, etc. Its like that, but with Puppy there is one key difference,  its if the above bands had Tony Iommi (Norton) riffing the place up

The combination of ear melting riffs and polar opposite pop commercial vocals shouldn’t work as well as it does. There a lot going on here that deserves repeat listens as its not as simple as Sabbath meets Ghost. I suspect that it could be divisive. However, I loved it.

Their liner notes state that they would like to thank ‘all 12 of their fans’. After this album I am certain they can but at least four zeros after the 12.

This dog has definitely got ‘BITE’ and one hellova ‘BARK’ . When they tour very soon, don’t expect them to have their bellies tickled at the merch stand.

Score – 8.5/10

Tracklisting
Black Hole
Vengeance
Poor Me
Just Like You
And So I Burn
Entombed
World Stands Still
Bathe In Blood
Nightwalker
I Feel An Evil
Handlebars
Demons