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Tuesday 10 September 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Fallen Temples (Live Review By Paul Hutchings)

Fallen Temples, Ravenbreed, Who Knows Didley & King Kraken, Newbridge Memo, Newbridge

Whilst many of the South Wales metal fraternity were at Fuel in Cardiff saying their farewells to Democratus guitarist Kerrin Beckwith, the Bloodstock heroes Fallen Temples were pulling out another faultless show in the impressive Barbara Bevan Ballroom at the Newbridge Memo. With a solid support card, this was a quality night for those who like their riffs big and meaty.

As well as the fact that the Memo is a mere 20-minute train journey from where I live, which makes it so easy to get to, it’s also one of the cleanest. Sparkling toilets make a change from the grim of many of the Welsh rock clubs, whilst the beer selection was far superior with bottles of Tomos Watkin and Wye Valley’s lovely Butty Bach amongst the options. As befits a ballroom, plenty of seating and a raised stage in the corner made the setting a stunner.

Having stuffed our chips down (excellent work Conti’s Fish Bar) Mrs H and I arrived to the sounds of Freak which could only mean one thing, the Kraken had woken. It’s been hell of a year for King Kraken (8) and it’s been a couple of months since I last saw the Bloodstock finalists. Confident, assured and fresh from a stunning 3rd place in the Hard Rock Hell Highway to Hell event in Sheffield the week before, the band were on top form. Cohesive and tight, they powered through a set of old classics and fresh new songs, with The Grey particularly pleasing. The engine room of the band has always been in synch, but tonight rhythm guitarist Pete Rose, bassist Karl Meyers and drummer Richard Lee Mears had it totally locked down. As usual, this allowed vocalist Mark Donoghue to prowl centre stage, roaring out the anthems and dealing with a couple of microphone issues with ease and a look which said it all. With their songs hitting the epic heights, all that was left was for guitarist Adam Kowalski Healey to show his chops. His fluid playing has always been impressive and tonight he once again looked like the guitar was an extension of his body with some superb solos. Always fantastic to watch, the Kraken show no signs of fatigue on their increasingly exciting journey.

Who Knows Didley? (8) is a band who we’ve reviewed a fair few times in recent months. They’ve been a bit hit and miss in terms of consistency but having ridden the storm of line-up changes in recent months, they now appear settled and intent on delivering their own brand of hard rock which slotted in neatly on the night. Bassist Glyn Mason is now part of the furniture, but star of the show was drummer Craig Wilmott, two weeks into the role and owning it like a boss. You’d never have twigged he’s so new to the band. Vocalist Paul Matthews continues to blossom, his delivery improving every time I see him, and his stage presence is infectious. Alongside Matthews, guitarist Gareth Allford was unassuming but confidently delivered all the riffs, killer solos and some superb harmonies (along with Mason) which really added to the band’s sound. A solid set got the audience involved, with an attempted sing-along brave but ultimately ill-advised, mainly due to the one disappointment on the night, the muddy sound which rendered much of the banter indecipherable and muffled most of the bands throughout the evening. Like the Kraken before them, the lads from Pontypool are getting better with every viewing and it’ll be interesting to see them at the Stadium Rocks gig in Cwmbran in October to see how they do.

Penultimate band of the night and a new viewing for Mrs H and me as Cardiff four-piece Ravenbreed (9) stomped a huge hole in the venue with their ferocious riff heavy set. Led by the impressive Zoey Emilia Allen, the band (Mikey Watkins -guitar, Ross Formosa - bass, Oli Watkins – drums; at least according to their Facebook details so update your social media if it’s wrong!) made a huge impression with their energy, power and total commitment. Mixing tracks from 2018’s EP Hollowed with a new track or two, including their new single with the interesting additional guest rap vocals which the band has been teasing about on their social media for the last few weeks. I know that Ravenbreed have been making a big splash in the South Wales hard rock scene in recent months and with a much wider span of gigs across the UK I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they are soon a much more well-known outfit. A super band to watch and listen to, if you get the chance then make sure you catch them.

There’s little to be said these days that I haven’t already written about Fallen Temples (9). They impress every time I see them, increasing the quality and confidence in performance at each show. This was no different, with Touching The Void, Phoenix and Cut The Wire all hitting hard in the first few numbers. Whilst the audience had thinned slightly by the time that they hit the stage shortly after 10pm, Temples played the gig as they always do, as if it was their last, with a ferocity that is admirable and a style that just says ‘class’. Three times I’ve seen them in the last month, and each gig has been unique. This one allowed them to kick back and hone their craft a little bit more, as they, like Didley are heading to Cwmbran for a huge gig with Skindred at the end of October. Little else needs to be written. For me, Fallen Temples are one of the most exciting bands in South Wales now and with the promise of new music and some super shows coming soon, it’s a good time to be watching them and the other bands on this bill. A superb night, massive thanks to all who helped to organise it. Let’s do it again … soon!

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