Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Wednesday 31 July 2019

The Spotlight: BOA Interview With Grief Ritual (Paul H)

Grief Ritual’s EP Life Is A Phase hit the right spot with our reviewer Mark back in April when he awarded it an impressive 8/10. Vocalist Jamie took the contestant’s chair as I played Magnus Magnusson.

Paul: Let’s start with a brief history of the band

Jamie: We formed in the latter part of 2018 and played our first show soon afterwards in September of that same year at Underground Festival at Gloucester Guildhall, which also featured Black Peaks, Loathe and Modern Error. In December 2018 we released our debut EP Life is a Phase and we've since been playing as many shows as possible to support its release.

Paul: Who is the current line up?

Jamie: James (drums), Mart (guitar), Silas (bass) and Jamie (vocals)

Paul: How would you describe the band’s sound and influences

Jamie: We consider ourselves to sit somewhere within the genres of blackened hardcore / post-metal so I guess you could say we're a bit crossover in that respect. We have what's been described as a crushingly heavy sound live and there's an interesting (at least to us) mixture of heavy hardcore and bits of modern metalcore plus elements of grim post-metal, black metal and savage grindcore to our sound. We've got a lot of different influences and each member definitely brings something to the table when it comes to that but as a whole, we really enjoy bands like Behemoth, Conjurer, Cult Leader, Cursed, Deafheaven, End, Full of Hell, Gojira, Harms Way and Leeched.

Paul: Prior to Bloodstock, what are some of the highlights for the band so far?

Jamie: Our debut EP Life Is A Phase was put out on cassette by the excellent Cardiff-based DIY label FHED in March of this year. Pop over to - https://fhed.bandcamp.com/album/life-is-a-phase – to grab yourself a copy and support this great label. Alongside that we've only really been actively playing shows since January of this year but have been delighted to be able to support bands we really enjoy such as; Bun Dem Out, Who Cares?, Cruelty, Revolve, Climate of Fear, Loathe, Lotus Eater, Ithaca, Monolithian and Watchcries. We've also got shows supporting Black Tongue (in Bristol) and Kingpin (in Sheffield) coming up as well as a weekender with Heriot in September and next year we'll be appearing at Dreadfest. It's really great to be able to see and meet all these great bands and visit new places to play to new audiences. We also had the pleasure of recording our second EP (due for release later this year) with Joe Clayton (Pijn / Leeched / Curse These Metal Hands) at No Studio, Manchester, recently and we can't wait to show everybody the new release.

Paul: Let’s move on to Bloodstock and your road to the festival. Please tell us about your journey

Jamie: Cheltenham hasn't ever had any M2TM shows before so when the opportunity to take part arose, we jumped at the chance. Bloodstock is such a great festival and gives so many opportunities to bands so with us being somewhat of a new band it seemed a great testing ground for our material. We entered the competition with the hope that we'd be able to at least make the final, if not win it (as you have to have that hope and belief), and although the competition was extremely strong we were absolutely delighted to make it all the way through.

Paul: We know from our friends in bands that getting to the M2TM final is a great feeling. Tell us about the build up to your final and how you handled it

Jamie: It was a big deal for us, and certainly the biggest, if not one of the biggest shows we'd ever played up to that point. We were also fortunate in that the final was held at a venue – The Frog & Fiddle, Cheltenham - that we all know very well, and that we'd be playing to a good amount of people we knew would support us, as well as some who may have never heard of us before, so that definitely gave us a lot of confidence going in the final.

Added to that, we work harder practicing than any band I've ever been in previously and have been busy playing as many shows as possible this year. All that meant that leading up to the actual day we felt well prepared and that if we played as well as we knew we could that we'd be alright. It certainly helped alleviate any nerves that we'd had by being able to prepare so thoroughly and once we were on stage and in full flow everything just seemed to go into overdrive. The final itself was one of the best shows I've ever been fortunate enough to be a part of.

Paul: What about when you were announced as winners? What were the emotions like?

Jamie: Definitely shock and then absolute elation. I feel proud to be able to be in a band with friends and to have managed to achieve something as great as getting the chance to play Bloodstock Festival within our first year of being a band.
Paul: So, moving on to the festival itself, what can we expect from you?

Jamie: Blackened crushing heaviness and riffs that will be hard not to bang your head to. We feel that we’ve got a sound that’s got something for everyone who enjoys their music on the heavy dynamic side so we can’t wait to get on stage and show people, who may not have heard us before, what we’re about.
Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing there?

Jamie: There's so much quality in the line-up but definitely for us the highlights are Parkway Drive, Cradle of Filth, Thy Art is Murder, Children of Bodom, Raging Speedhorn, Cancer Bats, Lotus Eater and Soilwork. We're also looking forward to seeing our friends in the The Hope Burden, who are also playing the New Blood Stage this year.

Paul: Have you been to Bloodstock before?

Jamie: No, this will be the first time for all of us.

Many thanks to Jamie for his honest and full answers. Plenty of background information for you there. Catch Grief Ritual destroying the New Blood Stage on Saturday 10th August


Reviews: Swamp Coffin, Pathetic, Wardomized, Ribspreader (Lee & Scott)

Swamp Coffin: Flatcap Bastard Features (Self Released) [Lee Burgess]

I love a bit of Sludge and with this little offering entitled Flatcap Bastard Features from Swamp Coffin, I find myself in the deep south wading my way through said swamp in said coffin. This is a lovely selection of hefty blues rock tracks with all the right components in all the right places to make this a wonderful summer sound full of humidity, bugs, alligators and other things that belong in a swamp. It’s a brilliantly old- fashioned affair with great tone and awesome heaviness that give us what we need. Sweaty slow songs that sound great, punch us in the gut, cover us in petrol, set us on fire and leave us to burn whilst the music chugs along quite nicely. 

When I say nicely, I mean with all the menace of a human sacrifice to Odin being served as a Sunday roast. This really is good stuff. Uncomplicated, heavy but balanced and effortless. I actually have real trouble finding fault with Swamp Coffin. In equal parts the heavy blues of Black Sabbath mixed with the raw wall of sound of Machine Head, but with a sensibility more akin to Crowbar and Monolord. That may sound strange but just give is a listen and it will all make sense. I love this because it’s metal that fills a room with sound and exudes a passion for music that is never overlooked in the pursuit of heaviness. It’s pure extreme metal shot through with a serious mission, simply to drown you in thick warm mud. 9/10

Pathetic: Rat King (Self Released) [Lee Burgess]

Pathetic’s latest collection of delightful ditties, lovingly entitled Rat King, offers up a body (literally) of work fit for any old school death metal enthusiast. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been longing for something putrid, rotten and totally foul to get your ears around. Well, I think we found it. You’ll find nothing new here, at least not in sound, but then that’s not what we want, is it? What we want is scuzzy chunks oozing nastiness that sounds as if it’s been delivered straight from 1991 on a cassette. Whether you’re looking for titles like the title track Rat King, or something a little more descriptive like Defecation Upon The Grave Of The Grand Wizard, Pathetic have it all. 

This all sounds very bad. Really, it does. The mastering of this record is, I suspect purposefully awful. From the drumming, to the lead guitars, this album sounds like it was recorded on a construction site in an Earthquake. If you’re looking Opeth levels of production, you may want to give this a wide berth. However, if you crave genuinely horrendous sounds, and disturbingly low barked vocals, step right up. This really is nasty stuff, so make no mistake. If like your DM in the style of Obituary, Deicide or Scream Bloody Gore era Death, step right up. 8/10

Wardomized: ...A Heated Exchange (Sudden Strike Records) [Scott Price]

Irish band, Wardomized are here with what looks like an actual LP from a killing streak of EP’s and one or two live albums. And boy oh boy, what an angry fucker this album is. This album (as you would expect) is just bat-shit crazy from start to finish with little to no breaks for the un-aware listener. It’s unwelcoming, it’s not your friend and it wants you dead. What sounds like good ole grindcore with some death influence mixed in to bloody up the sound just little bit, but not too much though can’t be getting blood on our boots now can we? This album gives me Napalm Death vibes, more so retro ND with some death mixed in. It makes for a unique sound among a sea of bands trying to be as heavy as possible. But (to my surprise) this isn’t your cookie cutter grindcore/hardcore album. Something I struggle to find is something unique among the Napalm Death/Terroriser and recently Nail’s rip-offs is an actually coherent sound and feel. 

This band does bring something new to the table. Actually good production where you can hear each instrument being played, and for once the vocals aren’t lost in a sea of scooped guitars and waaayyy to loud drums. Vocals aren’t “Oh my god he’s a vocal god” But they’re pretty good. They suit the band well and really that’s all you need. Drums are pounding and ruthless with a good amount of taste thrown in, so you’re not just listening to blastbeats the entire way through. One gripe I have with this album, is that it’s very one dimensional. It has attitude, but it does nothing more than expected. Which in some cases, this would be a good thing. This isn’t one of them. It’s kind of a “one trick pony” album, once you’ve heard one or two songs, you’ve heard the entire album to be honest. It’s a good album, but it doesn’t blow my socks off with surprise or wow me at every corner. It is what it is. A meat and potatoes grindcore album. Give this album a listen, tell me what you think. I really want to know. 5/10

Ribspreader: Crawl & Slither (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions) [Scott Price]

Bands and albums can be very surprising eh? Well, this new album from Ribspreader is one of them. I haven’t heard of this band before, but I’m glad I have. I took my time with this review to go back and listen to some of their older stuff from (surprisingly enough), 2004 and onwards. A pretty gruesome and heavy selection to choose from, like a buffet of flesh and entrails. The Swedish Death Metal outfit most certainly achieve a…let’s put it as a unique guitar tone. Honestly sounds like a combination of a classic Boss HM2 in front of a clean head of some kind, along with a noise gate of some kind to reign in the murder. I can’t really make out any qualities that make me go “oh yeah that’s a Marshall!” But you can definitely tell that this album was made in Sweden. It just has that “Swedish death metal” sound. The vocals on this album are fucking great, they’re low and gross without sounding weak, and not completely unintelligible like the really low, obnoxious “Cricket” vocals which you tend to find on a lot of Slam albums. 

The drummer and the bass player, as usual, give the guitars a much needed “oomph” and some punch. And for once you can hear the bass rumbling instead of being almost completely mixed out. One thing I will note about this, is that I’m usually not huge into Swedish death metal, it’s usually not my forte. So I did come into this album with a somewhat fresh outlook. And I can honestly say that I enjoy this album. The only complaint I really have about this album, is honestly the riffs. A lot of them just don’t click with me. Not entirely sure why, but even the very first riff you hear on Breeder of The Dead just completely leaves something to be desired. But the bad riff is usually followed by a good one. Maybe it’s just me, I’m not sure. The album is, of course, available on Bandcamp. Give it a listen and tell me what you think. Am I right? Wrong? Let me know. 6/10

Reviews: Rosalie Cunningham, Bones, Insurrection, The Drippers (Matt, Sean & Val)

Rosalie Cunningham: Self Titled (Cherry Red Records) [Matt Bladen]

Originally planned as a PledgeMusic release the debut solo album from Rosalie Cunningham, was saved from doom by Cherry Red Records so now has been released to general public with the freak flag flying high. If the name seems familiar then you'll probably know Rosalie as the frontwoman/multi-instrumentalist/band leader of psychedelic troopers Purson. They played their final gig in 2016 and after a brief break Cunningham launched back into music with a solo album, where she can let her creative juices loose, bringing her own slant on the music that has influenced her. Cunningham is a woman that embodies the spirit of the 60's and early 70's citing her influences as The Beatles, Slade, Syd-era Pink Floyd, Bowie, Small Faces, Genesis and Black Sabbath.

So it's fitting that her solo album is full of all of these flavours, climaxing with the 13 minute progressive epic A Yarn From The Wheel, it begins with the psychedelic shimmer of Ride On My Bike which name checks mescaline in it's lyrics as an afterthought as it breaks out into wild semi-jazz guitar riffs at the end. It's a dramatic start to an album on which Rosalie sounds revitalised, it's also an album on which she has made her most personal record. The feminist Fuck Love is a swirling organ/piano driven track which moves between Western boogie and histrionics that remind me of Nick Cave. Though Butterflies nicks the riff of Pink Floyd's Brain DamageHouse Of Glass sounds an awful lot like Purson with it's creeping acid induced fuzziness. Playing most of the instrumentation here, she credits her journey with Purson as improving her songwriting as now she is not shackled by band dynamic she can compose as she sees fit, alluded to on Dethroning The Party Queen.

This self titled debut has everything you'd want from Cunningham, especially if you were as obsessed with Purson like I was, but with a lot more packed into the kaleidoscopic packaging this album is clad in, big stomping rockers such as Riddles & Games are counterpointed by tracks such as Nobody Hears, taking you on this journey of discovery with Cunningham. On the back of this I can't wait for her Bristol co-headline with Goldray on Thursday 01/04/19. Get on a pair of loons and let your hair down, man. 8/10

Bones: Diseased (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Sean Morgan]

Yeesh, I need a friggin shower! Scratch that, I need to scrape off my decaying skin ASAP. Just how much are this band packing? Grimy, gritty and fucking gruesome are a few of the words used when listening to Bones. And surprise surprise, these American death crusties are signed to Transcending Obscurity! If that isn’t enough to give you the horn then I don’t know what will, given how consistently awesome TO are of late. Bringing it back to Bones and their blighted brand of dank death, 3rd album Diseased makes the La Brea tar pits look a relaxing bath in comparison! With Bones’s sole purpose of mass contamination via an assortment of blasts and shrieks, I’d best hold on tight. Thing are gonna get filthy REEEAL fast!

Blood, Diarrhea And Tears kicks things off and my teeth long with it, bulldozing in a furore of Bolt Thrower riffs and agonised roars. Everything is cranked to the max, the bass pleasingly filling out the dynamic space, as Bones' death rumble continuously explodes from my speakers. The death march continues on Mass Graves, grimy scathing riffs propelling the relentless onslaught onward, underpinned by the ever present barrage of drums. Fucking hell, these guys REAALLY like Bolt Thrower! Nawt wrong with that of course, as Carrion Crows solidifies this in it’s opening riffs, occasionally straying into early Cannibal Corpse. Frantic crossbeats add extra chaos to already belligerent attack, the wonderfully loose solos heightening the mania even further. Title track Diseased takes a slight left turn, the usage of octave riffs imbuing the carnage with a hypnotic edge. The more measured pace also allows for some groove, which Bones take full advantage, until Stench Of The Dead drags us into the pit once more.

It’s thicker than a tank, firing off round after round of pummelling destruction. Yeah, pummelling and ABSOLUTELY FUCKING CHUNKY! No One Matters goes full on D-beat, sounding like prime Rigor Mortis or Unholy Grave, though I’m almost certain both never sounded this THICC! Down brings the speed…uh…down once more, sinister groove in full force as Bone trample everything in their stride. The shifts between clean and distorted add some variation, showing that Bones can do more than just be CRUSHINGLY LOUD. Louder than hell, one might say (suck it Manowar)! Boozer and Broken Wheel go full Venom and rock the fuck out, displaying the more playful side of Bones. Before things get too fun, Crucifier and closer The Future Is Now remind us what Bones came here to do; rip and tear until it is done!

Not going to lie, things got bloody listening to Diseased. Bloody, bruised and battered and I loved every minute of it! ‘Diseased” not going to win any prizes for technicality, that's for sure. But ask yourself this; who needs that when Bones can bulldoze everyone and everything into oblivion? One hit = one kill and Bones kill hard. 8/10

Insurrection: Circles Of Despair (Big Bad Wolf/Headbangers Records) [Val D'Arcy]

Dutch melodeath band Insurrection return with their first full length album, Circles Of Despair. Following on from the band's well received debut EP Catatonic, my first impression of this album is that this is straight up melodeath (with some thrash influence). Although not a huge departure from the slightly more thrash based sound of the EP, the abundant melodic riffs are dexterous and calculated, coupled with a crisp production that gives this record an accessible, clean finish. The vocals have a raspy, Lindberg-esque grit that give the otherwise polished sound a nicely contrasting, jagged edge. There does indeed appear to be a decent amount of classic, Swedish influence at work here; not surprisingly perhaps with Fredrik Nordström (At The Gates, In Flames) at the controls. But that's not to say this is an unoriginal album by any means.

Over and above the melodic riffs (there are lots) there's a layer of real feeling and atmosphere, quite dark and heavy at times. It's this that both gives Circles Of Despair a twist of originality to its profile but also holds it back from falling into the trap of an overly pop-like sound, that some melodeath at the fat wedge of the melodic scale fall foul of. This is much more than just hooks and catchy tunes (again, there are lots) and second and third play through of this album reveals a little more character and depth each time, there's a complexity that warrants a closer look. The solos are tight and elegant, plentiful but not overdone. 

So what's the downside? Well, the songs are generally well structured and the musicianship on display is first class but, the whole thing feels a little bit too safe. I do feel like it's missing a climax. I can honestly say I enjoyed almost every passage of this album and it did well to build anticipation but never quite got to the big reveal. That said, I'm making an effort to be critical, on the whole this is a technically brilliant album that should plant this band firmly on everyone's watch list. 7/10

The Drippers: Action Rock (The Sign Records) [Matt Bladen]

'Action Rock' that's the genre tag that Swedes The Drippers have coined for themselves on this debut album, at just over 30 minutes I'd say in more normal terms Action Rock is a garage rock album owing a debt to The Stooges and MC5 with it's raw fuzzy sound and wild abandon. recorded and mixed byTomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studio in Stockholm, he has worked with The Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Entombed and Backyard Babies on their classic albums so you can hear why even though this album requires there to be as much fuzz and feedback as possible it's clean and crisp, ideal for a keg party. It's an album written for a stage show where I'd assume The Drippers are in their element, screaming guitars, songs about drinking and rock n roll itself and a crowd baying for more. So any album isn't going to recreate that live show but it can sure as hell get you pumped for it and hint at what to expect. This trio have both vocalists bellowing while taking bass and guitar respectively as their drummer abuses his kit, they charge through this 11 song record in double time as no song exceeds four minutes. From the early Motorhead sound of White Light and Bottled Blues to the rockabilly themes of Backbeat and the snarling punk of Finskt Blod Action Rock gets the blood pumping with both it's brevity and intensity. This is supercharged rock n roll, play it loud, with friends and copious amounts of booze around! 7/10  

Tuesday 30 July 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Witch Tripper, Lifer & Beneath The Divine (Live Review By Paul H)

Witch Tripper, Lifer and Beneath The Divine at Aunty Als, The White Lion, Chepstow

As the hottest week in living memory dripped into the weekend, this free gig put on by the excellent people at Rock N’ Roll Circus homed welcomingly into view. Train tickets purchased, we joined the throngs of Hawaiian shirt clad race goers travelling to Chepstow Races; so many in those shirts that we questioned whether it was in fact a covert Cannibal Corpse show. No such luck, but we did ace it with a few pre-gig pints and meal at the stunning Boat Inn, overlooking the Wye. It was the Wye Valley Brewery that started our evening in fine style too, with the HPA and Butty Bach in fine form.

Tucked off Bank Street, the White Lion was busy with a mix of evening drinkers, metalheads and locals when we arrived. Final sound checks were being completed and a quick chat with the headliners, the mighty Witch Tripper, surely the hardest working band in the UK now. Always good to catch up with the band, their set was to be a thing of beauty later in the evening.

First up though, the local stoner bruisers Beneath The Divine (8) who were simply storming. Some of the reviewers for the blog have seen these boys before but for Mrs H and me this was a first viewing, but unlikely to be the last. Improving as the set wore on, the four-piece play a bluesy stoner style with a thunderous back beat. With the Sabbath riffage cranked out to 11 courtesy of guitarist Kev, it was vocalist Jason who took centre stage, his energetic style and soulful delivery catching the attention. Tracks from their excellent The Wicked Resurrection sound even better live. Their pulverising sledgehammer sound meeting nods of approval from around the room and the visiting headliners. Kev’s guitar sound was superb, allowing him to cut the air with a real clarity whilst the rhythm was nailed by drummer Barney and bassist Tim. Sometimes you really enjoy old school metal and Beneath The Divine deliver that with classy aplomb.

A quick refill of the glass and it was South Wales answer to the NOLA sound in Lifer (7) who stepped up, clicked that spine straight and proceeded to level the venue in the way only these brutes can. A strong, bullish set from a band now approaching veteran status, Lifer know what they do and do it very well. It’s aggressive, it’s in your face and it is sludgy heavy goodness rolled up in a curled-up fist which strikes hard and relentlessly. Vocalist Scriv snarls and roars, guitarist Web pulls riffs out the sky and the battery from drummer Shaun and bassist Simon is merciless. Although Lifer’s sound was slightly muddier than Beneath the Divine, they tore through their set with punk-infused stoner gusto. Music to drink beer to. That’s for sure.

It's unusual to see Witch Tripper (9) without the sweat pouring off Richie Barlow and Chris Stoff Daughton and tonight was no exception. It’s only been a few weeks since we saw the band kicking a hole in the Gryphon’s floor but there is never anything other than 100% high octane energy from the Notts lads. A raucous set with tracks from both albums including White Lines, Chills To The Bone and blistering set closer Attitude Adjustment are all comfortably ensconced in the set and with the number of miles and gigs these guys out in they rarely miss a beat. Barlow and Stoff never stop moving, whilst Gary Eric Evans is now comfortably part of the furniture and makes the difficult moves look easy. Groove based hard rock and metal is their business, and in my opinion, there is no-one better in the business these days than this power trio. I’ve said before that they are a true force in the UK hard rock and metal scene, and I for one cannot wait to see them get the reception they deserve at Bloodstock 2019.

Reviews: Billy Sherwood, Formicarius, Hyvmine, Forlorn Hope

Billy Sherwood: Citizen - In The Next Life (Frontiers Records)

If you are a Yes fan or indeed an Asia fan you'll have heard of Billy Sherwood. He was the guitarist and keyboardist from 1997 to 2000 and featured on albums such as Open Your Eyes and The Ladder as well as contributing production and various instruments since then, he rejoined Yes in 2015 covering for and replacing original member Chris Squire on bass, he also was asked by Geoffrey Downes to replace the late John Wetton on bass in Asia in 2017. So basically if it's Yes related (or William Shatner related) then Billy Sherwood hasn't been far from it for a while. Citizen: In The Next Life is the continuation of the concept started on the 2015 album Citizen, here he has written songs about real and fictitious characters from history.

The beautiful Monet is about the impressionist painter and follows the naturalistic style of the paintings, meanwhile Mata Hari is a bit sexy and dangerous, on the other hand Skywriter is much poppier and reminds me a lot of It Bites with it's kooky pop edge. Sherwood plays pretty much everything here even doing the vocals which sound an awful lot like John Mitchell, a comparison that is aok with me as readers will know about my affinity with any project he is involved in, however it does a little bit of the emotional gravitas of Mitchell's work. There are both Yes and Asia hallmarks here as you'd expect from the ethereal vocal harmonies (Via Hawking), heavy use of keys, clean guitars and melodic progressive music. Sherwood is an exceptionally talented musician, his songwriting, playing and production all deserve kudos, if you're a fan of melodic prog then I'd say you'd better invest in Citizen: In The Next Life. 7/10

Formicarius: Rending The Veil Of Flesh (Schwartzdorn Productions)

They return from the darkness of the abyss, with yet more tales of horror and terror. After basing their debut album on the witchburnings conducted by Matthew Hopkins et al. This album has been carefully crafted to once again fight against the hypocrisy of Christian dogma, Rending The Veil Of Flesh is an ode to devilment, witchcraft and the occult performed by a band who are rapidly becoming one of the premier black metal acts in the country. This is anti-religious black metal that features croaked vocals from Lord Saunders that barks dark incantations and is joined by bassist Hægtesse's growl as the dual guitars riffs with the now de-rigueur tremolo shredding of Saunders and Nazarkardeh (lead guitar) cutting at the throat as often as possible, with Inherit Our Sickness going as far as having an brilliant guitar solo section that would fit on a power metal record.

The rhythm section brings the unnerving low end, one that bludgeons with its aggression, probably due to Kevin Paradis of Benighted taking the drum stool but it's the gothic keyboards and orchestral swathes from Morath, who also adds some haunting voices to tracks such as Dieu Et Mon Droit, that make Formicarius a bit more rounded and grandiose as a band. Often bringing them in line with acts such as Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and even Rotting Christ who's Sakis Tolis lends his chanting voice to the spoken word opening on Early Will I Seek Thee a track that is a stand out of the album also featuring the violin of Aklash's Nicholas Miller at it's climax, a progressive, track that manages to fit in a lot of light and shade in it's 5 minute runtime, even bastardising the Lord's Prayer. The band have clearly learnt a lot from their tours with bands such as Hate, Hecate Enthroned and Noctem, as Rending The Veil Of Flesh, is not only more accomplished than it's predecessor but also a leap forward creatively for the band who have now firmly taken their place in the UK black metal scene.

A more powerful and confident band now, they take risks on this album that really help them to rise above the countless bands in the black metal scene. Fans of Dimmu, Emperor and COF will lap up this album of epic symphonic black metal, the beast has returned from the pit and once again Formicarius slap the face of god. 8/10

Hyvmine: Retaliation (Seek & Strike)

Led by guitar virtuoso Al Joseph, Hyvmine are now on their second full length album following a full length and EP from last year. As you can read in those previous reviews, I raved about Earthquake their debut so will this second album live up to the debut? Well it opens with Assassins which has everything that drew me to this band, it's chocked full of technical riffs and storming guitar solos which remind you of Al's mastery of his instrument, however what I did get very excited are his superb vocals, similar to those of Shinedown's Brent Smith, it's these that really make this band with soaring powerful cleans ideal for the American modern rock style of bands such as Shinedown, Alter Bridge et al. 

Musically too they skew tracks such as Imitator towards that sound but with added chunk and the skillful guitar playing. They slow the album down on Born To Wage which is a bit more anthemic, even breaking down into a aggressive coda before the more rockier sounds come back with the defiant Retaliation. However where the debut really really shone in it's brevity this album is longer and less progressive in nature meaning that it does suffer from bloat as many of the songs here are quite generic American radio rock. Still with the virtuosity on display it's got an advantage on so many similar bands. 7/10

Forlorn Hope: Over The Hills (Self Released)

So what if Sabaton were from Merseyside not Falun? Well then they'd probably Forlorn Hope. The band categorize themselves as 'historical metal' their debut album Over The Hills is a concept record that deals with Peninsular War of 1807-1814 which pitched Napoleon's France against former ally Spain over control of the Iberian Peninsula after France betrayed Spain (who were then allied by The UK and Portugal), it intelaps with the Spanish War of Independence and was only resolved in 1814 when a coalition of Spain, United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Prussia and Russia defeated Napoleon in what was one of the biggest conflicts in the Napoleonic war, and one of the first cases national liberation.

So history lesson over and to the album itself, a stirring instrumental Introduction gets the album off to a heroic start with military march readying you for the warfare that is about to come. The album starts proper with Vive L'empereur which retains the marching pace, the rhythm section of Chris Simpson (rhythm guitar), John Roughley (bass) and Danny Kelly (drums) keeping the pace of that of a artillery barrage, accentuated by Jade McKenna's keys. At this pace it means that Alex Bishop's lead guitars can, fly in and out at will. Now I mentioned Sabaton earlier and thematically their similarities but while they draw from European power metal Forlorn Hope's debut is more in line with NWOBHM sound, in fact they sound a lot like one of my favourites Fury.

Although I said NWOBHM but Rifles is a very power metal sounding track that gallops along showcasing Chris Simpson's brilliantly over to vocals that remind me a lot of Saracen (there's an obscure one for you), in fact Forlorn Hope sound a lot like Saracen due to the big keyboard presence. War In The Shadows is an epic fist pumper, The Eagle Hunters a more traditional galloping metal track and Die Hard is almost thrash (and not about Bruce Willis in a skyscraper), Badajoz meanwhile is very theatrical, opening with a solitary acoustic guitar, before exploding into some blistering speed metal. By far the most recognisable number on here is Over The Hills And Far Away, which is not a Gary Moore cover, but the traditional folks song from the time of the Napoleonic War that the older readers may know as the end theme from TV's Sharpe.

Now I will say that the album is very good joyous heavy metal, it's also very, very historically accurate, denoting a lot of research, however it is a little thin production wise which is quite noticeable meaning that it hasn't got the bold sound that their Swedish brethren have. On the other hand it is a very strong debut album from a D.I.Y metal band from Merseyside. Now if we could get them down to South Wales that would be a great excuse to break out the red tunic and rattle my saber to the sky. 8/10   

Monday 29 July 2019

Reviews: Lagerstein, The Oklahoma Kid, Morbid Cross, Frozen Dreams (Liam & Val)

Lagerstein: 25/7 (Kegstand Records) [Liam True]

I first heard of Lagerstein a few years back when they toured with Alestorm, a fellow pirate metal band. And I've been following them since. With 25/7 however, it's their best work to date. The entire album is one big singalong with glorious riffs, air drum moments and massive stadium chorus'. I've always loved this genre of music, but this has pushed the boundaries with elements of Glam Metal, Stadium Rock and also some Country elements in the instrumental side. From beginning to end, the glorious voice of Captain Gregarggh keeps you enthralled on this epic quest of burying treasure, finding a hidden island in the Bahamas & finding the ancient Aqua Bong.

Also adding to the album, it seems it's a concept album. On a quest to find the Sun's long-lost beer bong to gain another hour a day for more partying. With stops at a Pina Colada Paradise (Hands down the BEST song on the album) some help with Party Parrot and with aid of the almighty Midnight Moonshine! It's captivating and so fucking cheesy, but it's one of my favorite releases this year. If you're a fan of Alestorm or other pirate/party bands, these guys are right up your street! You'll also find the crew touring the UK later this year. Get to those shows and experience the atmosphere. And buy this album. You won't regret it. 10/10

The Oklahoma Kid: Solarray (Arising Empire) [Liam True]

Some destructive Metalcore from Germany. And when I say destructive, I mean it. With bludgeoning breakdowns, instrumentals heavier than dark matter, throat ripping vocals and soaring cleans. Although the music side is pretty generic, they do it differently enough to sound new and fresh, and with the duel vocal duties of Tomm Brümmer it brings a new life to the genre. The star of the show comes from the beat man David Burtscher behind the kit. With punishing drums keeping the heavy riff in line with the highs it's a match made in Metalcore heaven throughout the record, which makes it pretty sad when it's all over and to an end. It's not a groundbreaking album at all, not by any means, but it looks like the band are joining the resurgence that Metalcore had a few years back, and helping to bring it back to the fore front of the Metal genre. And with this album, it proves that the German Metal crew are here to stay. Just hope they keep this momentum and tour this record down our throats. Brilliantly done. 8/10

Morbid Cross: Disciples Of The Goat (Self Released) [Val D'Arcy]

New Jersey based and (surprisingly) yet unsigned thrash act Morbid Cross present Disciples Of The Goat, a full length album with all the trademarks of good thrash album. Tight, technical, raspy and a lot of fun, Disciples Of The Goat displays all the qualities of its Bay Area forefathers. There is a lot more to this album than Exodus worship however, with a number of other influences on display. From the groove inspired riffs in the title track to the blackened overtones in Bow The Knee, reminiscent of early Sodom and the like. The vocals are somewhere between Phil Anselmo and Alexi Laiho if you can imagine that, it's a fitting sound that works really well both for the frantic outbursts as well as the groovier rolling sections. For the most part, this record is a riot with enough fast riffs and drum triplets to keep your head banging, as it should to any decent thrash album.

The production does let it down in parts; the levels are off in places and the overall mix isn't great. Furthermore there are a few oddities on this album that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Amongst those, And The Angels Wept; a minute long intermission comprising of some semi acoustic guitar didn't really do it for me. Then there's the drum solo at the start of the final track, Choked With Insanity; a ten minute opus which sounds like a thrash cover of a WASP song, very odd. Drum solos are bad enough live, they definitely have no place on studio recordings. But before I get too carried away with the negatives, I would say that this a really fun, headbanger of a record which ultimately is the primary objective of any thrash album, so on that basis it's a thumbs up from me. 7/10

Frozen Dreams: Rising From The Ashes (751075 Records DK) [Val D'Arcy]

Rising From The Ashes by Frozen Dreams is a new one for me. Having a mooch at their social media I see a lot of signposts for Atmospheric Black Metal which I think is a bit of a stretch. What we essentially have here is just shy of an hour of blackened melodeath. I do try not to get too drawn into the nth layer of derivative when it comes to categorisation of sub genres, but in this case I feel the distinction is both valid and warranted. Rewind back to 2004-6 and bands like this were popping up one a week from Finland (and to a lesser extent in Sweden, the home of this particular band), their popularity fuelled largely by the growing success of bands like Children Of Bodom, Norther and Ensiferum to name a few. If you weren't one of these founding few then you probably had two things in common: instant appeal and a short life span.

Their upbeat melodies, clean production and accessible simplicity made them the perfect gateway bands for the next generation of black metal and melodeth fans. Those same fans were probably responsible for the aforementioned short life when they ultimately grew out of them in search of something a bit more involved. This album is strongly reminiscent of that sound. Lots of downtuned heavy, distorted riffing, harmonic lead guitars with staccato keys carrying the melody. Although this all makes for very pleasant tunes there's just not enough texture. Ride The Endless Star does well to create some atmosphere; well constructed solos and audible bass line adds some depth. But across the board most of the melodies are linear, they progress in as much a by-numbers consecutive fashion as the broader construct of the songs, which does little to enhance what is a very flat soundscape.

Life Beyond Death has a more genuine old school atmospheric black metal sound, at least initially but soon slumps back into its comfort territory and ultimately falls short of breaking the somewhat unimaginative mould. The drumming, much like the other instruments are fairly uniform throughout consisting of prolonged periods of rolling double bass and although this style does well to carry the melodies at pace, it never really arrives anywhere particularly exciting. 6/10

The Spotlight: BOA Interview With Damim (Paul H)

Of all the bands playing at Bloodstock this year, few excite me as much as London based Damim. Having seen these guys a few times, I know the power of their live show. Their down to earth frontman Nathaniel Underwood was good enough to discuss all things blackened thrash.

Paul: For those new to Damim, how would you describe the band and its sound?

Nathaniel: The onset of convulsions and existential panic at the sounds of the 4-minute warning civil defence sirens. Seething anger at the universe. The sound of molten steel being poured from its furnace, moulded, hammered & ground into a twisted metal sculpture. Barking orders for survival having endured insurmountable grief. The countless untold stories of strife in the face of actual oppression that haunt landscapes anywhere you care to look.

Paul: 12 years may have passed since The Difference Engine, but A Fine Game of Nil is a blistering way to return. Congratulations on an excellent release. It’s been out for a few weeks now. How has the response been to the album?

Nathaniel: So far so good. Good press. Great audience reaction. The first actual music video for Rising Of The Lights - which we took great care to get right - I think took many by surprise and continues to be well received.

Paul: A Fine Game of Nil is sharp and tight. You’ve been one of the hardest gigging bands around in recent years. You seem to be on the road all the time. It may be an obvious question but has this helped with the writing and the delivery of the album?

Nathaniel: Honestly not really. Every activity is its own reward. While the focus has never been on technicality, in order to play with confidence and concentrate on the delivery as opposed to the movements we have to be reasonably well-rehearsed. Writing, recording preparation and rehearsal sessions in view of shows are very different beasts. Having to maintain the proficiency that allows for an unspoken understanding to be established and maintained within the band tends to eat into writing time.

Paul: I think it would be fair to say you’ve been around a bit. You’ve now got the invitation slot on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock. How did the invitation come about?

Nathaniel: We played a show some of the key Bloodstock stakeholders were attending. They liked us and asked if we'd played at the festival before. We're obviously delighted to get the chance to play this institution.

Paul: I’m not sure if the band has been to Bloodstock before either as a band or as punters. Are there are special memories of the event?

Nathaniel: The first show I performed with Akercocke having played a part in the reunion was on the main stage three years ago. That probably counts.

Paul: I’ve asked other bands to list three favourite things about the festival. What would you add to the list?
Nathaniel:It's a generally very welcoming and friendly atmosphere. I have yet to watch a band myself on any of the main stages with anything less than an excellent sound. The Sophie Lancaster Stage will always have at least a couple of acts I'll want to see. Like many other festivals you get to bump into people you know quite well in a different setting that you have to travel miles to get to - that never ceases to amuse me.
Paul: You play immediately before Scorpions which is an unlikely combination! Do Scorpions feature in the Damim playlist?

Nathaniel: In a subconscious manner perhaps? At the very least I won't turn them off if their music comes on - yes even Wind Of Change. We're proud to be sharing a bill with them in any event.

Paul: The mix on Sunday at Bloodstock is varied with everything from Aborted to Queensryche on the main stage and similar patterns on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Are there any bands you would be particularly keen to catch over the weekend?

Nathaniel: Death Angel, Xentrix, Queensryche... I'd be curious to hear what set choices Hypocrisy have in store. Always got time for Anthrax. Don't forget about Zealot Cult, Taake, Red Method. I'm certain there will a band to be pleasantly surprised by.

Paul: I’ve seen several of your shows so know the intensity which you approach each gig with. It looks like you will clash with Dimmu Borgir which is quite a challenge. What will Damim bring to the festival and why should people choose Damim?

Nathaniel: Dimmu Borgir will be Dimmu Borgir. Having seen them at venues such as The Garage in London and With Full Force main stage I know what they're capable of and what kinds of means of production they have at their disposal, and I have no doubt that they will put on a show accordingly. I can't tell you what to watch. What I can also tell you is that we are hungrier than Dimmu and we'll be hitting that stage harder than we ever have before. I think people will respond to that.

Paul: With your background in mind, can you give me a couple of high points in the Damim journey?

Nathaniel: In terms of standout moments, you can publish?... Playing with many of the bands and musicians we listened to and looked up to during our formative years is always huge, no matter how many times you've done it before. Napalm Death, Testament, Gorguts, Obituary, Exhumed, PESTILENCE, Zyklon, Entombed, Cathedral... There's quite a list at this point. Finding out that some of the guys who created the sonic journeys that will forever haunt your psyche are ego-free, appreciative folks is reassuring. Recently one of the big ones has been to see the vision actualised onto vinyl. The importance of this moment is not something you can easily explain.

Paul: And after Bloodstock, what is next for Damim?

Nathaniel:There's a Deicide/Krisiun support slot the day after; definitely bucket list material. After that, we will continue to tour and support the album. We're working on several ventures under the hood, studio, live and otherwise. Stay tuned.

Paul: Finally, when can we expect to see you back in South Wales?

Nathaniel: Nothing set in stone yet but look out for an announcement within the next few months I expect.
Paul: Thank you for taking the time to put this together!

When it comes to a band like Damim it is a pleasure. Damim play the invitation headline slot on the New Blood Stage on Sunday 11th August. It’s your decision where to be but if you want to see serious brutality, then you know which band to watch.

A View From The Back Of The Room: Bloodywood (Live Review By Matt D)

Bloodywood, Armada Of Secrets, Endeavour & Liquid State, The Lanes, Bristol

Nu-metal from New Delhi? It can only be Bloodywood! Bristol, UK. It was warm. Very warm. The term Indian Summer is thrown around a lot but tonight it was incredibly apt. Bloodywood, the ex-parody cover band now making their own sounds, came to a very warm Bristol to play their first show on UK soil.

The show started off with local four-piece Liquid State (6) who roared into life bringing their catchy melodies and groovy sound to an ever-building crowd - who took to the band quite well. Next up Endeavour (5), post an appearance at the M2TM Bristol Semi-Final, played their heavier Dream Theater style sounds. Personally, I am not one for guitar solos that form the core part of a song, but they were a tight group and for those who are into that sort of thing will get a kick out of them. The final support act was Armada Of Secrets (6) - who I had never heard of before but brought a pretty good show to the now busier and warmer Lanes hallway. Vocalist Caroline had a great voice that really rung out while the crashing bass and good old fashioned rock and roll sound got people moving and singing.

It was then time for Bloodywood to enter the fray. At this point, a nearly sold-out crowd had packed into the venue and waited. And waited. The band stood silently looking out over the crowd as some form of technical issues prevented them from starting but when they did they launched into their (now over) one million viewed Machi Bhasad (Expect A Riot). For those who haven't heard the track (and you should!) its a solid nu-metal track that will keep your head banging and asking why tabla drums aren't more extensively used in metal. The energy and intensity was high and the two lead singers play off each other and the crowd really well. People were bouncing up and down and creating. I was really struck by the simple good old fashioned sound that made nu-metal such a force when it hit the scene. After that, they dived into three tracks Endurant, Jee Veerey, Rang De Basanti that most of the crowd didn't know but obliged with a lot of partying too.

Rapper Raoul Kerr left the stage as the band then dove into two cover songs - the first bhangra infused cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit that caught the party hungry crowd by surprise with and then a heavy metal cover of Tunak Tunak (If you don't know it Google it...). Two more of their of own tracks came next including Mundian To Bach Ke Rahi, and the very popular Ari Ari (now sitting on 3 million views on YouTube) Kerr came bounding past me as the band did their thanks and said how proud they were of everyone involved in the scene and said they had one more to play... Deja Vu! All of a sudden they launched back into Machi Bhasad (Expect A Riot) - normally a cardinal sin of gigs. But I was hard-pressed to find anyone in that room who was complaining.

Overall I am giving Bloodywood a strong (7). The band aren't going to change the world, nor did they do anything different, BUT if you are looking for a solid, head nodding, nu-metal group these guys have got it in buckets.

Sunday 28 July 2019

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With Blind Divide (Paul H)

Of all the bands that have won M2TM in recent years, none will make me smile more that our own Blind Divide. Veteran campaigners, they’ve completed a couple of interviews before the heats and the semi-finals, so I moved away from my standard questions and mixed it up a bit.

Paul: We’ve covered you guys in some detail over the past few months so it would seem a bit ridiculous to ask you some of the more mundane questions. Instead let’s move straight on the THAT final at Fuel. We interviewed you prior to the final. How were the nerves on the night?

Blind Divide: By the final we were comfortable with our set and the crowd at Fuel, but we knew it was going to be a tough choice on the night and we had no option but to give it our all. There were plenty of moments throughout the night watching the other bands when we wondered whether our best was going to be good enough!

Paul: You’d grabbed a couple of other gigs before the final. Did you feel sharp?

Blind Divide: We felt on form and fighting fit, filling our time with more shows allowed us to really work on our performance and iron out any little issues.

Paul: You threw in two new songs during your set. How did they go down with the crazies?

Blind Divide: We’re really stoked with the reception to our newer material, we can’t wait to get it released! We had wondered how Nimis would go down, being a bit of a different vibe from what we usually do, but people seemed to dig it.

Paul: It was a long evening, but it was great fun. Were you able to enjoy it?

Blind Divide: The wait was hard, luckily, we had some of South Wales’ finest to keep us and the rest of the crowd entertained in the meantime! We enjoyed every minute of it.

Paul: What about when you were announced as winners? What were the emotions like?

Blind Divide: Just elation. It was really surreal. We were completely prepared to see another band take the top spot, there was a huge collective sigh of relief at some point, after we’d stopped grinning like twats!

Paul: You are in good company with Chaos Trigger, Malum Sky, Agrona and of course those scamps in Democratus. Have you had any words of advice from those excellent chaps about your 30 minutes?

Blind Divide: We’ve had loads of advice from previous winners, which could probably be summarised as: Milk the opportunity for all it’s worth, enjoy every second, because your set will be over before you know it!

Paul: You are on Friday which sounds like a score. Happy with the slot?

Blind Divide: We’re really happy with our slot, we can turn up and play while we’re still feeling fresh, instead of after 3 or 4 days of excessive drinking!

Paul: Moving on to the festival itself, what can we expect from you?

Blind Divide: This isn’t the time to be winging it or experimenting, we’re going to go up and do what we do best and play our unique blend of DeathThrashGrooveMetal-Core

Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing there?

Blind Divide: Tesseract, Cancer Bats, Fallen Temples, Damim, Krysthla, Incite, Ten Ton Slug, Footprints In The Custard, Rotting Christ, the list goes on…

Paul: I know that some of you have been to Bloodstock before. What would you describe as the three best things about the festival?

Blind Divide:The finest selection of beers, the finest metal (of course) and the finest Sunday roast in a enormous Yorkshire pudding! Also, Dodgems.

Paul: And after Bloodstock? What are the plans for Blind Divide post August?

Blind Divide: We’re looking to release some singles and saving our pennies and flogging our wares until we can record an album!

Many thanks for getting involved. I can’t wait to see you guys rip that stage up in a couple of weeks. As if you need to know, Blind Divide will rip the roof of the New Blood Stage on Friday 9th August. See you in the pit!

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With Voluntas (Paul H)

It was a real treat to be invited to review the Bristol M2TM final and the winning band on the night, Voluntas certainly worked their nuts off to win a tough evening. The band are a four-piece thrash Metal band formed in Bristol in 2015, they bring an energetic, thrash/death fusion in the form of pit-inducing riffs, chuggy breakdowns, plenty of fast solos- all tied together with catchy momentum. Originally formed by members Mark Watkins (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and K-lum Schmit (lead guitar), their debut EP Walk to Hell' is released on 3rd August 2019. Guitarist K-lum grabbed the questions and provided some meaty thrash filled responses.

Paul: Who is the current line up?

K-Lum: Well it first started with K-lum and Mark jamming a couple of covers and writing a few riffs, not long after Joe Barton joined on bass and so the beer and metal sessions became a weekly thing. After about a year we had enough material to start gigging so started looking for a drummer. Trialled a couple but eventually found Alex who absolutely blew us away. The line-up has remained the same ever since, with Mark on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, K-lum on lead guitar and Joe providing some nasty death metal growls.

Paul: Describe the band’s sound and influences

K-Lum: Thrash is our core; Mark is a huge Metallica fan and it shows in his vocal style but with Barton's more death metal style we get to mix and match where we choose. Our collective Influences span from Alter bridge to Bloodshot Dawn and Iron Maiden to Allegaeon so it's hard to pin down our genre, but progressive Thrash seems the most accurate to us.

Paul: Prior to Bloodstock, what are some of the highlights for the band so far?

K-Lum: Southwest Heavyfest in 2018 was awesome to be a part of but I think our favourite gig was playing Nipples-A-Booza at the Gryphon in Bristol. The gig was to raise money for a local legend who had suffered a stroke and the support from the community was a true testament to the strength of the local scene.

Paul: Getting to the M2TM final is a great feeling.

K-Lum:Yeah, it's absolutely amazing, this year's semi-final was extra special to us as K-lum and Alex were pulling double duties with Dies Holocaustum and Trayus. The feeling after all 3 bands went through was incredible.

Paul: What about when you were announced as winners? What were the emotions like?

K-Lum: Absolute shock and elation, to see 5 years of work get such a payback is very encouraging.
Paul: Moving on to the festival itself, what can we expect from you?

K-Lum:Our debut EP Walk to Hell is due out 03/08 so we will be playing it in full for our slot at Bloodstock. It flows nicely as a set and should get the pits churning!

Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing there?

K-Lum: K-lum and Alex are really looking forward to Children of Bodom and Mark’s eyeing Tesseract straight after so it's the Dio stage on Friday for us! Other than that, we are looking forward to checking out the rest of the new blood stage bands, the local scene is fierce right now!

Paul: Have you been to Bloodstock before?

K-Lum: No, all first timers for bloodstock!

Paul: And finally, tell us a guilty pleasure about each member of the band!

K-Lum: There are a few things that spring to mind like K-lum’s Clash addiction, Barton's RuneScape binges, Mark's love of Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Alex's passion for The Darkness but you'll find none of us bare any guilt or even shame on any of these matters!

Having seen these guys ripping the roof of the Exchange in the final, it should be a feisty affair alright. Thanks to K-lum for his time. Voluntas hit the New Blood Stage on Saturday 10th August. A must see if you like your thrash.

Saturday 27 July 2019

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With Fear Bound (Paul H)

Fear Bound is a Dread Metal five-piece from Cambridgeshire. Another M2TM veteran outfit, the Hitchin winners had their say.

Paul: Let’s start with a brief history of the band?

Fear Bound: We originally formed in 2013, after Will Smythe and Jack Harris decided to put up some online ads to look for band members after many years of playing together and recording as a two piece. They found Anthony Woodley on vocals and Alex Wight on bass, and the band has been going strong ever since, with a few changes in line up and musical direction along the way.

Paul: Who is the current line up?

Fear Bound:Vocals/Bass Alex Wight, Guitar Will Smythe, Guitar Andy Coles, Keyboards Craig Burkitt, Drums Alex Townsend

Paul: Describe the band’s sound and influences

Fear Bound: We describe our sound as "Melodic Dread Metal" or "Melodread" but it might make more sense if we say we play Melodeath/Metalcore. As tends to be the case, we have a vast number of influences, but the most notable ones for us are Children of Bodom, Devin Townsend, In Flames & At the Gates.

Paul: Prior to Bloodstock, what are some of the highlights for the band so far?

Fear Bound: Highlight #1 for us would have to be the M2TM experience this year, which was phenominal. Having people in the crowd screaming for "more dread" left us in awe - without a doubt it was the most fun we've had as a band. Other hightlights would be sharing the stage with some incredible bands over the years. Since we started we've been lucky to play with the likes of Divine Chaos, Conjurer, Deified, Countless Skies, Raze the Void, Djinova and 13. Getting to see the vast talent on offer is really enriching and it's a great feeling witnessing others achieve greatness.

Paul: Let’s move on to Bloodstock and your road to the festival. Please tell us about your journey?

Fear Bound: This was actually the third time we've taken part in M2TM, once in Leicester and now twice in Hitchin. This year we spent the bulk of our time clumsily stumbling from one round to another, throwing accordions into our set at the last minute for a giggle, relentlessly talking about dread, and playing the most ridiculous intros for the crowd, who seemed to love it all.

Paul: Tell us about the build up to your final and how you handled it?

Fear Bound: To be honest we hadn't expected to get to the finals. Previously we'd never gotten beyond the quarters, so getting through to the semis themselves was a pretty huge achievement for us. It was around that point however that we started to panic. Our drummer was not going to be in the country for the final and our guitarist, Will, was getting married the day after the final. We got a fill in on drums in the form of Aaron from Akkadian (do yourselves a favour and check them out) and Will did an awful lot of apologising.

Paul: What about when you were announced as winners? What were the emotions like?

Fear Bound: It was pretty surreal when Simon read out our name. We'd been surprised enough to get to the finals, and given the other talent on stage that night we were expecting any of the other bands to be announced. After the initial shock passed, and we realised what'd happened, then it was pretty euphoric.

Paul: So, moving on to the festival itself, what can we expect from you?

Fear Bound: We tend to deliver 3 things in our shows – Generic metal, terrible introductions, and ample quantities of dread. For Bloodstock however we feel that this may not be enough and will be looking to up the ante. Perhaps more accordions? Or maybe new carefully selected outfits? We'll probably just cobble something awful together at the last minute and call it a good job.

Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing there?

Fear Bound:As always, the Bloodstock team have put a fantastic line up together and there's a good number of bands we're looking forward to seeing. In particular, we'll be stopping by to see Children of Bodom, Countless Skies, and assuming we don't clash with them on the Sunday, Soilwork and Bloodred Hourglass

Paul: Have you been to Bloodstock before?

Fear Bound: We've been in attendance many times, some of our number were even coming to Bloodstock when it used to be an indoor event!

Paul: If yes, describe the three best things about the festival.

Fear Bound: Too many things to choose from... There are a lot of reasons to love Bloodstock but in particular we'd have to hail the New Blood Stage for being a platform for bands like us to partake in something that could otherwise be out of our reach. Next, the Bloodstock community is worthy of praise itself. The metal family is such a warm and welcoming one, which is just such an immense thing to be part of. Finally, the music. As mentioned, Bloodstock always puts on amazing line ups, and it's a great place to see acts that we all know and love, and then also discover a number of awesome bands that we may have never otherwise seen.

Paul: And finally, tell us a guilty pleasure about each member of the band!

Fear Bound: As a collective, we all enjoy Erasure's A Little Respect more than anyone really should do.

Thanks to the guys in Fear Bound for their time. If you fancy some ‘Dread’ over the weekend, check them out on Sunday 11th August in the New Blood Tent.

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With Empire Warning (Paul H)

With a classic metal style, Empire Warning took the honours in the London final of M2TM and were good enough to provide us with some history and share their plans for world domination.

Paul: Let’s start with a brief history of the band

EW: Empire Warning was formed in 2009 by Adam and Ben. In a conversation about looking for a vocalist Elsio’s name came up, after that very rehearsal we saw Elsio walking down the street so we chalk that up to fate. Our guitarist left Ben on his own for guitar duty and we advertised; lucky for us Grant came along and filled the position flawlessly. After losing three drummers and so many failed auditions Jordan decided to try out. We knew Jordan from the scene and gigging with his old band and after he got behind the kit the rest is history. Our name came from a random conversation standing outside of the Shepherds Bush Empire and there was a warning sign; it was fitting that our name is a reference to where most of the band grew up and to remember where we came from always.

Paul: Who is the current line up?

EW: Elsio - Vocals, Ben - Guitar Backing Vocals, Grant - Guitar, Adam - Bass, Jordan - Drums
Paul: Describe the band’s sound and influences

EW: Eclectic to say the least. we are a Metal band with a love for all Genres. Lamb of God, Devin Townsend, Anthrax, Machine Head, Spineshank, Dry Kill Logic, to name but a few.

Paul: Prior to Bloodstock, what are some of the highlights for the band so far?

EW: We once played a closed show/Jam with an inclusive band based at Ealing Mencap, these guys have various disabilities and Learning disabilities yet played in a very cool very awesome band. We were invited to play songs for them and Jam on a cover of Whiskey in a Jar. It was a beautiful experience.

Paul: Let’s move on to Bloodstock and your road to the festival. Please tell us about your journey.

EW: We Entered M2TM four times over five years feeling cursed to be a semi-final band. We went out reassessed and made improvements with the amazing advice from people around us. 2018 was a very hard year for the band due to one member getting seriously ill and again having to look at the band as a whole, making sure we are doing right by ourselves and still loving our journey together. Finally, in 2019 we made it through to the finals. Ben almost cried.

Paul: Tell us about the build up to your final and how you handled it

EW: Strangely we were content., We decided to have fun and to be proud of ourselves for breaking our semi-final curse. We work really hard together, but we felt like lifting that pressure when the standard of the other bands are so high really transformed our whole mindset, we have never enjoyed and fell in love with being on stage together more than that night.

Paul: What about when you were announced as winners? What were the emotions like?

EW: Such a mixed bag. Relief, joy, shock, excitement and a strange hint of sadness when the moment started to calm down. We realised we can’t enter the competition again and that caused a little sadness because the family atmosphere you experience and the friends you make with the other bands is something you can’t continue doing. That in essence is one of the most amazing things about M2TM.

Paul: Moving on to the festival itself, what can we expect from you?

EW: A high energy metal show. We leave everything on stage for everybody to enjoy. We will give you everything we have got.

Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing there?

EW: Karybdis, Resin, Footprints in the Custard, Parkway Drive, Sabaton, Soulfly and the Scorpions just to name a few.

Paul: Have you been to Bloodstock before?

EW: Ben Has Back before it was open air. Massive Orange Goblin fan and literally travelled up for them, Can’t wait to experience it in all its glory now

Paul: And finally, tell us a guilty pleasure about each member of the band!

EW: Ben: it’s a song that I know I shouldn’t like called Dum Surfer by King Krule. It’s very much a marmite song

Jordan: Female fronted pop

Elsio: Truly, Madly, Deeply by Savage Garden

Grant: ABBA, seriously the most Metal pop band in the world.

Adam: Little Big, just google SKIBIDI

At least there is no Coldplay in that list. My grateful thanks to Empire Warning and you can catch them at the New Blood Stage on Saturday 10th August.

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With AeSect (Paul H)

Dublin has a proud tradition of M2TM winners alongside a thriving metal scene. I found time to explore the latest winners, AeSect whose guitarist Dave did the honours.

Paul: Let’s start with a brief history of the band

Dave: We’ve been together now since 2011 with the core members Luke, Aido and Dave being there from the start. Dave and Luke met through mutual friends and Aido responded to an ad for a guitar player and we’ve been jamming ever since. Willow our bass player has been around for 3 years now and Tony our vocalist is the newest member

Paul: Who is the current line up?

Dave: Tony – vocals, Dave - guitars, Aido – guitars, Willow – bass, Luke – drums

Paul: Describe the band’s sound and influences

Dave: We classify ourselves as technical death metal but to those outside the group that seems to change with every review and live performance! Our sounds is a mix of thrash, death and prog with some hardcore influences thrown in. We’ve been described as a mix between Lamb of God, Mastodon and Gojira. 

Paul: Prior to Bloodstock, what are some of the highlights for the band so far?

Dave: We’ve been lucky to support some good bands over the years. We opened for Decapitated and Xerath on their EU tour stop in Dublin. We’ve shared the stage with The Faceless most recently on their last EU run and Heart of A Coward before that. We’ve toured all around Ireland and had a short stint in the UK that was a lot of fun. 

Paul: Let’s move on to Bloodstock and your road to the festival. Please tell us about your journey?

Dave: We started prep for the competition late last year. Tony had just come on board and we had a new sound and energy on stage. We spent time on our set list and really took a hard look at what we felt was working and what wasn’t. Some songs we scrapped entirely and some we re-wrote from the beginning only keeping a few select sections. Overall its been a positive exercise as we feel our songs are a step above what we were writing and performing even a year ago.

Paul: Tell us about the build up to your final and how you handled it?

Dave: Now that it’s passed and we’re looking towards the festival the build up seems quite brief. We played the semi-final and then the final in a few weeks and didn’t really change our set as we felt it was so strong. So, for us it was business as usual and we just rehearsed and tightened everything up for our live show. 

Paul: What about when you were announced as winners? What were the emotions like?

Dave: Shock. Joy. Relief. We had put so much into prep, promo, rehearsals and song writing that knowing it was all worth it just made the victory that little sweeter. We had done the competition before and lost so we know how hearing another band being called really takes the wind out of you so hearing our name being said was just amazing. 

Paul: Moving on to the festival itself, what can we expect from you?

Dave: We are aiming to bring the heaviest set the New Blood Stage has ever seen! We’ve been working hard behind the scenes on the set and our live show to ensure it’ll be 30 ferocious minutes no one will forget! We’ve a few things queued up social medial wise so keep focused on our Instagram, Facebook and Big Cartel and all will become clear soon. 

Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing there?

Dave: Ten Ton Slug, Black Shuck, Thy Art is Murder, Soilwork, Anthrax, Sabaton, Parkway Drive.

Paul: Have you been to Bloodstock before? 

Dave: Dave and Aido have been there before a few times but for the rest of us it’s the first visit. 

Paul: If yes, describe the three best things about the festival?

Dave: The selection of bands is always top class, the people that go there are just some of the friendliest and soundest bunch of lads. Bin jousting (we do not endorse Bin Jousting here at MoM - Legal Ed)

Paul: And finally, tell us a guilty pleasure about each member of the band! 

Whole band – Seal, Kiss from a Rose. There are multiple videos of us after playing a gig and having a few beers loudly belting out a version of this classic. 
Dave – Cascada, Everytime We Touch
Luke – Post Malone, WOW
Willow – Envogue, Don’t let go
Aido – Has no guilty pleasures. If he likes it, he likes it
Tony – SNAP!, Rhythm Is A Dancer

So with that filth mopped up, now might be the time to say cheers to Dave and also to invite you to get your head stoved in at the New Blood Stage on Sunday 11th August. You know you want it!

Friday 26 July 2019

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With Pravitas (Paul H)

Pravitas is a technical death metal outfit from Leeds. For fans of Decapitated, Thy Art Is Murder and Periphery, the band stormed to a M2TM win in their final and were kind enough to give us the answers.

Paul: Let’s start with a brief history of the band?

Pravitas: Instrumentally we got together in November 2013 in Leeds, adding our singer Josh that December and playing our first gig in April 2014. We released our first EP (Queen Nothing EP) in September 2014, our second (The Synthetic Peregrination) in November 2017, and we are currently working on our third, to be released late 2019 / early 2020.

Paul: Who is the current line up?

Pravitas: We have: Joshua Barnett – vocals Richard Barnes – Guitars Joseph Taylor – Guitars Les Harrison – Drums Conor Devlin – Bass

Paul: Describe the band’s sound and influences?

Pravitas: We are most easily encompassed by ‘technical death metal’. We like crazy shred and heavy riffs, so bands like Archspire, Soreption, Nexilva, Godeater, Beneath the Massacre, Car Bomb, Decapitated, Revocation are some what we like to listen to.

Paul: Prior to Bloodstock, what are some of the highlights for the band so far?

Pravitas: We had an amazing time playing TechFest 2016 and 2018, it’s such an amazing festival! We got an amazing opportunity after our second ever gig, back in 2014, when we were offered a main support slot on a UK tour with Whorion, a tech death band from Finland. We jumped at the opportunity and loaded up our bassist’s mum’s Citroen C1 to go on tour, and we had a really good experience and a lot of fun. We named one of the tunes on our first EP on this tour, with the help of Whorion – Jaatelotottero, which means ice cream cone in Finnish.

Paul: Let’s move on to Bloodstock and your road to the festival. Please tell us about your journey?

Pravitas: We have entered M2TM on two previous occasions, both times in Selby and both times coming out in the semi finals. When we saw it was being held in our hometown in 2019, we thought it would be silly not to enter, so we did, and third times the charm. It must have been our year!

Paul: Tell us about the build up to your final and how you handled it?

Pravitas: We were just really excited to get through the Semi finals, which we hadn’t done on our previous attempts, and at the prospect of playing one final show and having the chance to play bloodstock. We prepared just the same as any other gig - lots of rehearsal!

Paul: What about when you were announced as winners? What were the emotions like?

Pravitas: It was such a great moment! We had decided from the beginning that if we were going to enter, we were going to aim for the top and hope to come out as winners, so to get the that final moment and have all that anticipation come to a head, it was really special.

Paul: So, moving on to the festival itself, what can we expect from you?

Pravitas: Lots of notes! Haha! blast beats, sweeps, shred, riffs, and also a nod to our favourite Swedish extreme metal band…

Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing there?

Pravitas: We’re particularly looking forward to Aborted, Harbinger, Karybdis, Thy Art is Murder, Dimmu Borgir and TesseracT.

Paul: Have you been to Bloodstock before?

Pravitas: We are all first timers, apart from our guitarist Richard who attended a few years back when he joined Pteroglyph on the new blood stage on bass guitar! We’re excited to get stuck in, have a laugh, and watch some great bands.

Massive thanks to the guys from Pravitas. Enjoy the festival! If you fancy having your face melted by the most ridiculous riffage, then Friday 9th August in the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage is the place for you.

Reviews: The Price, Barbarian, Overt Enemy, Disentomb (Matt, Manus, Paul H & Liam)

The Price: A Second Chance To Rise (Graviton Music Services) [Matt Bladen]

Marco Barusso is something of a jack of all trades not only is he the songwriter of Heavy Metal Kids and Cayne he is also a producer, arranger, session musician and sound engineer for Lacuna Coil, 30 Seconds To Mars, Coldplay and HIM. With those kind of credits you can see why his new project The Price has a definitive US rock radio sound to it with Barusso drawing from his storied history and his links to Italian mainstream artists. Think Alter Bridge, Sevendust and even Shinedown A Second Chance To Rise has muscular riffs, smoky powerful vocals and big hook laden songs but also a darkly melodic edge.

He's got numerous different musicians on this record but none of them really outshine the others making this album sound not only very solid but also cohesive as if it was one set of musicians on the album not the multiple singers, guitarists, drummers and bassists. To accompany the album the band have made numerous mini films that deal with "macro-issue of pathological human relationships and often morbid and degenerative implications". If the darker side of US radio rock appeals to you then A Second Chance To Rise will be making it's way to your stereo. 7/10

Barbarian: To No God Shall I Kneel (Hells Headbangers) [Manus Hopkins]

A little Italian speed metal is always a good thing to go for. Well, in this case it is, anyway. Barbarian’s To No God Shall I Kneel might be a bit cliché and a little corny at times, but it’s great music to spin around the room or slam some beers to. Its seven tracks are an unrelenting assault of typical but well-done thrash that would instantly get some necks spinning and a circle pit going at any gig. The riffage stands out, particularly in songs like Hope Annihilator and The Old Worship Of Pain, which boast NWOBHM style guitar work, and the brutal vocals are perfect laid overtop of the powerful instrumentation. All in all, this is a fine work of thrash. 8/10

Overt Enemy: Possession (Vault 32 Media/Confused Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Sllaaayyyeeerrrrrrrrrr!! There’s little to add. EP number two for the four-piece from Mission, Texas. A band that mix original compositions in the style of Sllaaayyyeeerrrrrrrrrr along with live tributes and covers. This EP contains four songs that could sit comfortably on most early Sllaaayyyeeerrrrrrrrrr albums, along with a cover of At Dawn They Sleep which, whilst well delivered, merely demonstrates the difference in song writing quality. Sllaaayyyeeerrrrrrrrrr fans will either love this or hate it. I’m ambivalent but then I love Sllaaayyyeeerrrrrrrrrr! To be fair, Sllaaayyyeeerrrrrrrrrr tributes are a bit weird. There can be only one Sllaaayyyeeerrrrrrrrrr! 5/10

Disentomb: The Decaying Light (Unique Leader Records) [Liam True]

Over the last few years death metal has become quite stagnant in my opinion. With new up and coming bands systematically pumping out the same sounds as previous bands in the scene with no originality. And as unfortunate it is to say, Disentomb are one of those sounding bands. With no originality it sounds like someone has just re-recorded a Cannibal Corpse record with lower production. The guitar sounds exactly the same as there's no differentiation so it sounds like one continuous song. The vocals are barely audible and sound like a fork in a fan. It's just not a good sounding album. But the structure is there and does need a little bit of improvement. If they can do this, and get a better sounding record and sound original rather than a death metal cover band, they can work their way through the ranks, no question. 5/10

Reviews: Hemina, Deadwood Lake, Dream Troll, Northtale (Matt, Paul H & Val)

Hemina: Night Echoes (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Australian progressive metal is probably at the best it's ever been with bands such as Voyager, Caligula's Horse and Chaos Divide all flying the flag for musically adventurous, conceptually dense and most importantly accessible to non prog fans. Hemina are one of those bands who can be held up with their countrymen as an exemplar for the Australian progressive scene. Night Echoes is their fourth album and once again it's a concept piece building the character of a child conceived in their previous album (how meta) trying to rebuild his life 10 years after his father's suicide, so it's a hefty concept that lead into the most accomplished album of Hemina's career. One that brings together three albums and 10 years of craft into an album, that deserves to be listened too in full as all good prog albums have to be. Production wise it's very modern and pumped up making it positively burst out of your speakers allowing you to hear every nuance in the compositions.

They have never been a band afraid to experiment and here there is probably as much experimentation as there is on any Devin Townsend and like Devy they aren't afraid to get hevy, they have always had a tonne of thick grooves in their music bringing big riffs to more directly metallic tracks such as Flicker and The Only Way but also they are a band who take great care to make sure their more melodic songs like Everything Unsaid and the end of In Technicolour have a pastoral sound that takes great care to be emotive without being to maudlin. Musically Hemina are as experimental as you'd expect them to be but for every ounce of virtuosity that they possess they never sacrifice the songwriting letting the synths shimmer and buzz throughout while the dual guitars of Douglas and Mitch bring twin guitar harmonies, fluid arpeggios and crunchy riffs while the rhythm section of Jessica and Nathan are a brawny engine room, making them sound similar to the UK's Haken.

However where the Brit's have Ross Jennings it's in the vocal harmonies between Douglas, Jessica and Mitch that Hemina distance themselves from many of their peers. Night Echoes is a reflective album in a number of ways set 10 years after the concept of a previous release, it's also a chance for them to bring together everything they have been working towards on their last three releases. Progressive music when it's like this remind me why I love it so much, just press play and let Hemina get you to feel. 9/10

Deadwood Lake: Immortalised In Death (UKEM Records) [Val D'Arcy]

Immortalised In Death is the fourth release and second full length album from UK black metal band Deadwood Lake. This album harnesses the very best of its predecessors not only in terms of music but also in its raw emotion. Consistent with previous releases of the band, this album covers themes of loss, grief and passing that have become synonymous with Deadwood Lake's lyrical subject matter. They have stayed true to their sound, mixing elements of melodic and atmospheric black metal but elevating the combined finish to new heights; this is easily the bands most accomplished work so far. Although true to their past, there are elements of experimentation on this album that provide a new dimension to their profile. Melodic riffing, more solos, use of acoustic guitars and ambient synths, even groovey passages in the second and fifth tracks but not in anyway compromising on heaviness or brutality.

Bruce Powell's unmistakable vocals are the perfect vessel to deliver all the feeling of primal, frustrated melancholy that makes their sound so unique. The songs are sufficiently diverse to hold their own identity, whilst moulding together to form a beautifully flowing album that doesn't feel like it carries any unnecessary weight or filler. Alone I Fly was a personal favourite. Deadwood Lake have taken a significant stride forwards with this album in establishing their place at the fore of what is becoming an increasingly crowded UK black metal scene. With enough character and originality to set them apart from their peers, Deadwood Lake are a welcome evolutionary force in what can be a conservative sub-genre. 8/10

Dream Tröll: Second To None (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Famously hitting the headlines in 2017 when long time mate and fellow metal head MP Richard Burgon added some spoken word to one of their tracks, Leeds based Dream Tröll’s second album was something of a shock. I’d been prepared for dark, NWOBHM style UK metal but this was anything but that. Carefully crafted, melodic metal with some of the cleanest vocal harmonies I’ve heard for years, Second To None is simply stunning. A strong opening duo, I Will Not Die Today preceded by Steel Winged Warrior are merely appetisers for the middle section of this album. Sandwiched between two seven-minute beauties (Chrome Skull Viper and Darkness Lies Within The Sun.)

The Art Of Death
clocks in at over eight minutes long and is a progressive epic which demands your attention. It smulders and broods, slowly building in intensity, the clever lyrics weaving a tale around the spine of the song. A pumping bass line gives girth, whilst the crisp drum sound anchors everything down.  It may well be one of my favourite songs of the years. Shades of The Von Hertzen Brothers, Opeth, Katatonia and Vola are all present in this magical release. At 57 minutes in length, there are some long tracks on the album, none more so than the closing ten-minute Legion which allows the band to really express themselves in epic style, as it ebbs and flows but never wanes. Second To None is an album that keeps on giving, with new finds on every listen. Quite simply, a gorgeous album that is a joy to listen to. 9/10

Northtale: Welcome To Paradise (Nuclear Blast) [Matt Bladen]

It's normally Frontiers records that bring together musicians from other bands to form a new project, but Northtale is a bit different. Welcome To Paradise is the debut album from Northtale who are made up of three world class musicians, each of whom had the urge to work with each other. The three men in question are Brazilian-American guitarist Bill Hudson (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Savatage, U.D.O, Jon Oliva's Pain, Circle II Circle, Vital Remains, Nightrage and Power Quest), Swedish drummer Patrick Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen and W.A.S.P.) and Swedish singer Christian Eriksson (ex-Twilight Force), they form the core of the band and wanted to bring back those glory days of 90's power metal where Hammerfall, Helloween and Stratovarius were playing some of their best material.

To flesh out the band they have brought in Mikael Planefeldt (bass) and Jimmy Pitts (keyboards) and set about recording this debut record. A debut record that opens with the kind of gallops you'd want from any 'proper' power metal band, soaring vocals, big drum beats and riffs that bring a huge smile to a man brought up on the bands mentioned previously. Higher the second song on the album is brilliant mixing Hammerfall's love of an anthem with the neo-classical sounds of Stratovarius as Hudson and Pitts dual, the Finns also loom large on Follow Me which also has a rampaging rhythm section and classical sounds, even using that traditional Strato harpsichord sound that featured on Black Diamond.

As you can appreciate if you've ever heard any power metal album, for all the bluster, hooky choruses and speedy solos there are also slower more romantic moments such as Way Of The Light which does sound a little like Manowar, for better or worse. Thankfully things go back to speed metal on Shape Your Reality, however Everyone's A Star reminds me of latter day Helloween due to its satirical nature. If power metal with an old school vibe is your bag then I suggest you seek out Welcome To Paradise as it's a blast from power metal's glorious past by musicians that treat it with reverence. 8/10

Thursday 25 July 2019

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With Bastard (Paul H)

Bastard, almost the original name for Motörhead [that was Bastards], and a thousand bands since. This bunch of hardcore in your face maniacs hail from Norwich and won their M2TM final. Here’s what they had to say about the band, M2TM and metal.

Paul: How did you form, how long have you been around etc?

Sam: The band formed unofficially quite a few years ago with a couple of different members but it never properly got going other than writing a few songs and having a few practices. The band as it is now has been a thing for roughly a year and a half!

Paul: Tell us who is in the current line up?

Sam: The current line-up is Alex on Drums, Verty on Bass, G on guitar and Jim is the vocalist.

Paul: Describe the band’s sound and influences?

Sam: As cliché as it is for bands to say this, we really can’t pin it down to a certain sound! We go by as being a hardcore band and the earlier songs are more hardcore, but I think it’s more the DIY hardcore attitude rather than the sound. Our influences vary massively from each member, but currently for writing music we’re taking influences from Cancer Bats, Gallows, Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes and Every Time I Die, Red Fang and Bring Me The Horizon.

Paul: Prior to bloodstock what are some of the highlights for the band so far?

Sam: We’ve played some awesome shows in the last year but a couple of highlights that come to mind is playing in Camden, we love that place, and we got to play the main stage at The Waterfront in our own city Norwich which if you know Norwich well or live there you’ll know it’s a big privilege to play on that stage.

Paul: Tell us about your journey up to Bloodstock?

Sam: We really feel like the band is picking up quite a bit of momentum, released our debut EP last year and recorded 3 singles which we’ve put out this year one after another. Got great responses from each song even though every single we’ve put out has been very different not only to our debut EP but from each other also! None of the singles have the same genre or vibe. Put out a music video for our single Mouth Breather which was actually debuted on the Bloodstock podcast, footage taken from some shows that our mate Will filmed and edited together for us so if you want to get an idea of one of our live shows watch that video!

Paul: Tell us about the build up to the final and how you handled it

Sam: Every round we played in this year’s M2TM we just treated as a regular gig, we didn’t wanna get too far ahead of ourselves and get our hopes up as we were against a lot of good bands! We give 100% at every show but when we knew we were playing the final we really needed to make sure we stepped up our game, again we didn’t wanna get our hopes up but we played our set well and then just got drunk and had a good time with friends and getting to know the bands we were playing with and just overall having a really good night so even if we didn’t win we’d made some new friends and contacts in bands!

Paul: What were your emotions like being announced as winners of M2TM?

Sam: We really couldn’t believe it! Even though we were treating every round like a regular gig we’d be lying if we said once we knew we were in the final that we weren’t all drooling at the mouth to play Bloodstock. We know how big of an opportunity this is so when our name was announced Is was quite surreal, didn’t seem real at all!

Paul: What can we expect from you at bloodstock?

Sam: Just pure high energy from the start of the set all the way to the end. We like to think we’re quite an honest band, from the music and our live performances. We write heavy songs we like to play and hopefully other people like too, we don’t write stuff we can’t play live and we’re just 4 regular guys jumping around the stage like a bunch of idiots but we have the best time when we’re playing live and I think people recognise that and that makes them enjoy it even more, what you see is what you get with us and I think people generally appreciate that. We love it when people get involved and mosh at our shows. We have a panda as our mascot, so the rule is if you see someone wearing a panda mask, they’re the target!

Paul: Which bands are you looking forward to seeing at Bloodstock?

Sam: The main bands we’re looking forward to watching are Parkway Drive, Thy Art Is Murder, Cancer Bats just to name a few. Oh, and rock legends Scorpions obviously as we’re playing on the Sunday too, Rock You Like A Hurricane is one of the biggest riffs ever!

Paul:  Have you been to Bloodstock before?

Sam: Jim has been before, the rest of us are new to Bloodstock!

Paul: If yes describe the best 3 things about the festival

Sam: Beer; Awesome atmosphere; Killer line ups

My thanks to Sam for taking the time to get this interview completed. Looking forward to a bit of Bastard? Then get to the New Blood tent on Sunday 11th August for a dose of in your face metal.

A View From The Back Of The Room: Agrona (Live Review By Matt)

Agrona, Blind Divide, Black Pyre & Misanthropia, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

This was supposed to be a headline gig from Liverpool black metal band Ethereal, unfortunately the band had to withdraw from the gig with around a week to go. Now this left everyone with a conundrum, cancel the gig? Or continue with Agrona (who were due to be the main support) taking the headline set and Black Pyre in support? Thankfully due to some string pulling from Agrona, they managed to get a four band bill on what was billed as a black metal showcase.

We got to Fuel Rock club just as Misanthropia (6) kicked off, according to their Facebook they are a three piece however all I could see was one man and a guitar playing a set of black metal featuring some fluid guitar playing, frantic riffs and programmed drums. I've never been that 'into' one man projects but it was a evil enough start to the evening keeping those that had turned up entertained ready for what was to come.

The room started to fill a lot more as M2TM alumni Black Pyre (7) returned to the Fuel stage once again to bring Nordic darkness. The gloom was immediate as Asbjorn Daemonium de Noctis, Dominus de Octopus and Kjøttflate The Mighty Ravendork powered through their furious, classic black metal sound, croaky vocals, tremolo picking and blastbeats agogo Black Pyre are a band who take their music seriously but do have their tongues in their cheeks about the cvlt nature of the black metal scene. Unfortunately due to forces of light (or logistical errors) they didn't have their now trademark Grapefruit but that didn't matter because the crowd were pitting and enjoying Black Pyre's frozen darkness. A band going from strength to strength they will be on more black metal showcases soon I'm sure.

Ah yes the previously mentioned black metal showcase tag, now M2TM 2019 winners Blind Divide (7) are not a black metal band, not by a long stretch and unfortunately they had an absolute mare of a show. Getting into the spirit of things they were made to look as cvlt as possible by Agrona's Kreulon and took to the stage with their usual aggression, however it was very clear that there was something amiss. The sound was muddy from the very start (apparently it was also very soupy on stage), the grooves were not that audible due to the swampy mix, leaving James' vocals very low in the mix. Still they battled on regardless getting some action down the front. However they are not a black metal band so were a little out of place on this bill and their addition was very last minute due to the issues mentioned previously but they plowed on playing older and newer tracks before finishing their set properly. It's said that you win some and lose some in this life but with Bloodstock looming, they need to regroup and get ready to lay waste to the Newblood Stage in August.

So time for the headliners and we've waxed lyrical about South Wales' premier black metal band in these pages numerous times. Personally I've seen the band more times than I can remember, through numerous line ups and performances, however I have never sound Agrona (10) so as vital and vicious as they did here. Taking the headline show in their stride they are now old hands at this and with a partisan audience in tow, many of whom have also seen the band numerous times, they took the vast crowd by the scruff of the neck from the beginning and began the bloodletting early as they went straight into Burn, the song many will know due to it's excellent lyric video. It was an great track to start out on establishing the nifty guitar work of the twin axeslingers Aeron and Arawn who lock in together for wrist shattering tremolo riffs. The engine room is human drum machine Ankou who blasts away with total abandon as Kreulon stalks the stage bringing the low-end devastation.

Agrona were on fine form from the very beginning determined to prove that they could replace Ethereal with ease. The instrumental elements were tight, syncopated but most importantly audible, there was a serious clarity meaning you could hear every single note being cranked out of Fuel's PA but also the dual lead vocals from the warlike Taranis and the bewitching Adara, with Kreulon also giving some barks later on as Taranis prowled the crowd anointing them with blood. The setlist too was excellent featuring some of the deeper cuts from their debut album such as Unbound and Risen along with favourites like Storm's End and Summoning The Void, which is now officially a singalong and new track A Feast Of Warlords while Unbound featured a brilliant new orchestral intro. This was Agrona at their most vital, muscular, tight as hell and showing anyone that may doubt them that not only are they capable of headlining venues such as Fuel and ones bigger of course but also that they are long overdue another appearance at Bloodstock to show how they have evolved into a blaspheming black metal machine.

A very enjoyable night with some very dear friends and some great live music from the South Wales scene which is still on fire.