So in a change to what we normally do here's a round up of some of this weeks live events, this is purely due to frequency and not being able to give a full review of each gig due to various reasons.
The Graveltones (Fuel Cardiff)
First up was two piece The Graveltones who I'd seen the same day playing a short totally electric 'acoustic' set (they were plugged in) set in the legendary Spillers Records, so after a little flip over to Fuel it was time to see their full electric show and they really pulled it off, Jimmy's stabbing guitar bursts out garage blues licks that Jack White or The Black Keys would be proud of and also howling at the moon vocally while he rocks and rolls, the usually mild mannered Mikey becomes possessed behind the kit flailing like a silver back in the louder moments but also casting a spell with delicate percussion. A furious set of songs from the duo showcasing their new album in the live arena as well as playing tracks from the debut album to a crowd that lapped it up in droves, a great set from a band that have a live buzz. 8/10
Grand Magus (Marble Factory, Bristol)
Into the second home once more this time with our groups power metal loving twins. After sitting through Heaven Asunder who sound like Killswitch Engage playing Avenged Sevenfold songs *shudders* it was time for the Swedish trad metal warriors, J.B, Fox and Ludwig to take to the stage to the theme from Conan The Barbarian. The crowd were cheering as the band blasted straight into I, The Jury with the hammering drums of Ludwig and the thumping basslines of Fox driving the bands trad metal onslaught as J.B riffed for his life and sang the songs of iron and stell with his sonorous vocals, this was a greatest hits set punctuated with the enjoyable between song banter that Grand Magus do so well, it is self depreciating and also inspiring getting the crowd to chant and clap along allowing everyone to join in the fun. Sword Of The Ocean bled into Kingslayer and as the set progressed we got Steel Versus Steel the always impressive triple threat of Iron Will Raven's Guide Our Way and Like The Oar That Strikes The Water. The set flew by and we were at the end in no time with Valhalla Rising, Triumph & Power ending the main set but Magus are not a band to faff about with encore thanking the crowd before the enormous set ender Hammer Of The North which came with the obligatory 'whoahs' at it's end. Magus once again played a blinder laying down the gauntlet to co-head-liners Ensalved who didn't really live up to the expectations for me. 8/10
Winterfylleth (Thekla, Bristol)
The final gig of the week was in Bristol again for British pagan black metallers Winterfylleth, this time I was with my long term gig companion and our apprentice. Due to a late arrival (and some beverages) we missed the support bands arriving just as the headliners took to the stage. Always a force to be reckoned with and a mesmerising live act I was surprised to see how empty the Thekla was on a Friday night, this is a tremendous shame as Winterfylleth are one of the truly truly unique bands on the metal circuit mixing unrelenting black metal with folk and pagan influences. The band kicked off their technical display with The Divination Of Antiquity and something didn't seem right, despite the band playing with the amazing virtuosity they always do the sound was bit weird (much like it was at Hammerfest) so after the The Ghost Of Heritage there was a lot of tuning and sound checking to get things right meaning there was a gap in proceedings while the audio gremlins were sorted, dutifully the hardcore crowd waited and with the layered delivery of Winterfylleth was back in full swing, the band have real magic about them live, they don't move much, quite the opposite Chris Naughton stands steadfast as he furiously shreds away aided by long term conspirator Nick Wallwork on bass, they provide the steadfast rhythm section, anchored by Simon Lucas' drums, that make the Winterfylleth sound, while Dan Capp plays the mellifluous leads that give the band a real depth. The Wayfarer Pt 1 was very well received and yet again showed off Naughton's demonic but crystalline vocals, the black metal genre is always a bit hit and miss with me but Winterfylleth have such good songs delivered with real prowess, that it's hard not to like them, tracks like A Valley Thick With Oaks, Whisper Of The Elements show crushing brutality and also a pastoral whimsy with acoustics placating the ferocious assault. The set ended with the always impressive Defending The Realm and with a few thank you's the night was over, this by far was the best gig of the week, an intimate venue, with a dedicated fanbase watching a band that are never less than impressive (sound issues aside). 9/10