November is almost done and we can all get on the eggnog but before that there is time to squeeze in a right mixed bag of new singles and videos. From Kenny’s write-up of the brand new Valhalla Awaits track through some classic punk and pub rock to some balladeering and pop songs for you to get your heads around, Go check them out. But hold on Those cheeky chaps The Sensible Gray Cells begin the Crimbo madness before we unleash December’s festive tunes…Enjoy…

Valhalla Awaits – Is There Anybody Out There? (VA Records) The long-awaited new single from Welsh wonders Valhalla Awaits is finally unleashed and it’s been worth the wait. The band have been busy in the studio adding the finishing touches to their latest EP which will be released soon. The guys have had a busy summer with various festival performances, following on from their support slot with fellow Welshmen Those Damn Crows on their UK tour earlier in the year.

This taster from the EP has all the VA trademarks: A fantastic vocal performance, melody, riffs, tasteful guitar solos, powerhouse drumming and crystal-clear production values. A mid paced track full of atmospheric guitar melodies courtesy of Rhys Carter and Chris Green, a rock-solid performance from drummer Snoz Lawrence leaves bass player Sam Kilby to hold it all down on the bass front. The track builds beautifully and climaxes with some stunning guitar work.

Yet again, vocalist Andrew Hunt plays an absolute blinder. His velvet tones soar over the music with ease while giving us an ear worm of a chorus that has been in my head ever since my first listen to the track. The band just go from strength to strength, and I can’t wait to hear the EP and catch the lads in a live setting soon. Bravo guys!!

The track is available to stream/download now wherever you listen to your music. Author: Kenny Kendrick

The Sensible Gray Cells – ‘A Stupid Xmas’ (Damaged Goods Records) I couldn’t think of a better person to release the first christmas single than the good Captain and his Sensible Gray Cells. Join with them in celebrating all things that are daft and frustrating about the festive season. The band’s Xmas ditty ‘A Stupid Xmas’ captures everything you love to hate about this special time of year. It also has the catchiest chorus since Slade and Wizzard ruled the charts! The B side is classic Sensible a gentile romp with soe neat guitar work ably backed by Paul Gray and Marty Love.

***VINYL FANS TAKE NOTE*** A certain number of records will have a deliberate mistake hidden.. well, somewhere or other – a jolly wheeze inspired by some of those old Stiff Records ‘instant collector’s item’ mispressings. We won’t say anymore!

Christmas / Mrs. Anthrope – Split 7 (Self Release) Christmas drop their 19th release with this split 7″. The band are full of snot and anger on their side ‘Armageddon’ whilst the lyrics might be apocolyptical the music shows a way more melodic and softer side of Christmas and it really works for the band with a most excellent record. I certainly wasn’t expecting such a melodic gang vocal on the chorus. Also from St Wendel Mrs. Anthrope is a new band with their first song right here. ‘Squeezy Brains’ is a fast banger that just makes you wanna dance! oh and break stuff. Its punk rock baby and it rocks! Can’t wait to hear more from these guys as its always great to have new music from new bands. Great single!

FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES – ‘Brambles’ (International Death Cult / AWAL) second song to be taken from their forthcoming album ‘Dark Rainbow’.  With a palpable sense of foreboding and menace, and arrives as something of a plea for a perfect love With the first half of the song being some dark ballad like song it then enters a darker twist before some lush strings and hushed vocals. A melodic pop song from Carter moving in a different direction than I was expecting keeping fans on their toes.

Faz Waltz – ‘Rave A Comin’ (Spaghetty Town Records) Oh baby its coming on like the bastard children of Little Richard and Jerry Lee with its boogie woogie piano leading the way on Rave a Comin. Its full tilt get your party pants on and lets go. The B Side isn’t far behind with a trad bop n roll with plenty of swing. Pure Rock n Roll nothing more nothign less. Expect a new album in the early part of 2024 and on this evidence expect a whole bunch of Rock n Roll kids. Great stuff. Horns a honkin and ivorys tinkling get these cats on tour with Jim Jones Allstars or would that be Rock n Roll overload?

Jim Bob – ‘This Is My Mix Tape’ (Cherry Red Records) Hot on the heels of his most excellent long player released earlier this year Jim Bob has knocked together a 10″ EP of four classic covers from ‘Are Friends Electric’ to ‘Pretty In Pink’ but he also entertains a Squeeze cover and Dexys ‘Gino’. Of course, its quality its Jim Bob and he’s been in a rich vein of form as of late and this only adds to his quality catalogue and will have fans old and new beaming with his take on some pretty classic tunes. This might be his first mixtape but I hope it won’t be his last. I can think of a follow-up bunch of tunes right off the bat Go Jim Bob.

Greg Kuehn – ‘Medicine Man’ (DC-Jam Records) Greg Kuehn, (TSOL keyboardist and prolific composer) is releasing “Medicine Man” the first single off his upcoming EP on DC-Jam Records. ‘Medicine Man’ is a song about recovery and mental illness, a subject close to Greg’s heart. He has been in recovery for nearly 30 years. TSOL fans tak e a breath because this is a dark ballad from Greg but its dark and soulful and sincere. but most of all its damn good.

Bob Vylan – ‘Hes A Man’ (Ghost Theatre) Taken from the upcoming album ‘Humble As The Sun’ which is out in April of 2024. With just one vocalist (Bobby) and one drummer (Bobbie) they have created a unique and ever evolving sound, one that crosses styles and genres, doing away with the traditional and embracing new and uncharted sonic dimensions. They incorporate these styles within their music in an attempt to bridge and blend genres and subcultures together. It is this very unique style and sound that has found them embraced by rock, rap, punk, dance and alternative crowds alike.

Golem Dance Cult – ‘Ghost of Las Vegas Taken from the bands latest album ‘Legend of the Bleeding Heart’. The idea was related to how we can feel alone even (especially) when surrounded by other people, like ghosts roaming in a casino…. in Las Vegas. The duo take chances and aren’t afraid to mix it up on their records but its sharp, captivating and interesting concepts. Besides if you don’t like a bit of Goth then getoutofhere. Here at HQ we love a bit of sparse bbuzzsaw guitar and low range vocals. Check it out.

Penny Rich ‘PC’ (self Release) Cardiff-based noise punks release a studio take and live version of ‘PC’ and it’s angry as fuck and comes out of the speakers swinging so get your dukes up and protect yourself. With a throbbing growling bass rumble, psychotic vocals, and that Grungy Punk riffage that served the likes of Nirvana really well. One to look out for for sure and hopefully I can catch them live soon and see how this brawler comes across – gumshields at the ready.

Johnny Moped – ‘Lockdown Boy’ (Damaged Goods Records) the loveable Lodon boys knock out a tuneful ragged slice of pub rock and they do it so well. Before you’ve heard it through once you’ll be spilling beer and singing along in your mates face with your arm tight around his neck moments before you either get turfed out of the boozer or you stumble and fall. Cheers guys its a belter and leaves me feelign warm and nourished. ‘The Other Side’ no the other side is like they left the tape running when they’re having a chat before the band kicks in with a short sharp burst of energy before fading away – strang? Yup but its Johnny Moped go check it out

When I started writing this review I tried to think if there are any thrash metal bands from Ireland that I had heard of… I couldn’t think of any, and a quick Google search didn’t help. Interesting that I had sitting in my lap the new album from Dublin based thrashers Unmaker. ‘Limb From Limb’ has one foot in the glory days of thrash, the band wear their influences on their (leather studded) sleeve, I can pick up early Sepultura, Kreator, and Possessed vibes throughout the album.

Opening with the brutal ‘To War’, Unmaker show that they mean business from the off. Crunching staccato riffs, pulverising drums and shouty vocals make the perfect blend for some old school sounding FRASH!! Drop Dead is a bouncier affair with a more atmospheric approach. The title track brings us back to more breakneck riffs and some double bass gymnastics from drummer Jake.

The album is very engaging, it really grabs you from the start and makes sure that you pay attention to what’s going on. ‘Control’ has a more modern feel with a nod to Bullet For My Valentine. The instrumental Point Break starts off with some dreamy guitar work and works its way up to some impressive guitar soloing from guitarist Sean.

The second half of the album kicks off with the Machine Head-tinged Rise, another impressive track with the band showing how well they work as a unit. ‘False Disciple’ highlights vocalist Aaron, he has a touch of Billy Milano in his delivery. The album closes with the epic ‘Breathe’.

Unmaker have done themselves proud here, a strong album that definitely puts Irish Thrash on the map!

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

Toronto noise mongers Deadwolff (yes there’s two f’s) have released their debut album ‘Heavy Rock ‘N Roll’, after the band’s debut EP came out digitally which caught the ear of RPM Online.

Shortly after, Deadwolff signed with Metal Assault Records, based out of Los Angeles, and released their debut EP on cassette, which sold out.  As of recently, Deadwolff has been touring throughout Canada, bringing their catchy hooks, and eccentric live show to the masses. Building momentum quickly, Deadwolff sought out and was noticed by Golden Robot Records and there’s plenty to love about it. If you’re a fan of the Ramones, Motorhead, AC/DC and Airbourne then you’ll love Deadwolff. So what if vocalist/bassist Tommy Wolffe cant sing for toffee? It just adds to the charm of the band, Wolffe’s bass is a little too high in the mix for my liking but that’s totally subjective. More drums please!!

Deadwolff has songs about gangs, booze, and women. They certainly won’t win any prizes for being literary geniuses. The music is head down, arse up heavy rock. You get what it says on the tin. A good fun, rough-and-tumble album with some ropey production. I love it! A great soundtrack to a Friday night booze-up. You can smell Deadwolff just by listening to them. They stink of a combination of sweat, bad breath, whisky, cigarettes, and well-worn leather jackets. Big up Toronto Hard Rockers they know what time it is. It’s time to rock!

Go and give Heavy Rock ‘N Roll a spin, you can thank me later.

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

I’m pretty sure most of us…ahem…. more mature metal heads would never have thought that 40 years on from the latter days of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, two of the most prominent and important bands from that movement would still be around today. We certainly couldn’t have imagined that they would still be releasing new material and putting on the kinds of performances that I was fortunate enough to witness in the grand surroundings of St David’s Hall in Cardiff tonight.

It’s a travesty that Midlands based metallers Diamond Head never reached the dizzy heights that they were so deserving of. Similarly to Welsh legends Budgie, Diamond Head owe a lot to a certain thrash band from the San Francisco Bay Area who, as we all know covered some of their back catalogue and introduced a whole new generation of metal fans to the brilliance of Diamond Head. In 2022 Diamond Head are still a force to be reckoned with. I caught their set at this year’s Steelhouse Festival, and they were amazing. I was anticipating another banging performance this evening and they certainly didn’t disappoint!

With a short forty-five-minute set, they made sure that all eras of the band’s history were covered. The setting of St David’s Hall as a venue for a metal gig is always a risky choice with its set up of seating only. This had a detrimental effect for the first few songs of DH’s set with a lukewarm crowd who seemed to be restricted in building some momentum. Frontman Rasmus Bom Andersen does a sterling job of whipping up the crowd and he has a fantastic stage presence along with an extremely powerful voice. By the time we get to the three song closers of It’s Electric, Helpless and Am I Evil? the place is absolutely bouncing with everyone up on their feet, headbanging and horn throwing like their lives depended on it. Guitarist Brian Tatler still holds an impressive figure with his Flying V being wrangled to squeeze out every tasteful solo and gigantic riff. The rest of the band are no slouches either, an extremely impressive set, my only complaint is that it could have been a bit longer.

I know I’ve probably bored you all with this before, but I really can’t emphasize enough how important Saxon are in my musical development. At the age of thirteen, football was my passion and even though I religiously watched Top of the Pops every Thursday and listened to the charts on a Sunday, I didn’t find my calling until a boy I was in school with called Tim made me a tape of the Saxon compilation Strong Arm Metal. I had never heard music like this, and I was instantly in love. Pete Gill and Nigel Glockler are up there with my biggest drum heroes, and they inspired me to pick up a pair of sticks and start my own musical journey. Thank you so much Saxon, and Tim of course!

I was lucky enough to review Saxon’s latest album Carpe Diem earlier this year for this fine online magazine, (unbelievably their 23rd studio album) and loved it straight away. Some of their strongest material has been released in the last ten years or so and they are playing better than ever. I also saw Saxon at the Steelhouse festival in the summer when they graciously stood in when a certain guitarist who used to be in Kiss cancelled his performance. Saxon were on top form and played a blinder even with some of the band suffering from Covid at the time. They really are a class act.

The room is noticeably fuller by the time the band stroll onto the darkened stage to the sound of the stirring intro of the Carpe Diem album, and with a thunderous drum intro from Mr Glockler, we are off into full force Saxon at their best. They really put newer acts to shame with their boundless energy. Tasmanian Devil lookalike Nibs Carter literally doesn’t stop all night, running around furiously headbanging and jumping around like a teenager. The supremely talented Nigel Glockler is a delight to watch, his huge drum kit being battered for all its worth, and double bass drum barrages a plenty. Superb! The ever-present duo of Paul Quinn and Biff Byford are loving every minute and Biff’s voice sounds incredible. Doug Scarratt will forever be the new boy even though he’s been in the band since 1995, his guitar style and stage presence suit the band perfectly.

The set is a combination of new tracks from Carpe Diem, some old favourites, and some tracks they don’t play too often. It was great to hear Thin Red Line and Metalhead mixed in with Dallas 1PM and Heavy Metal Thunder. When Biff asks the audience which song they would like to hear out a choice of three, he jokes that they could probably do a week’s residence in Cardiff and play a different set every night… we might just hold you to that Biff! We end up with a fantastic rendition of The Eagle Has Landed which showcases Carter’s bass playing beautifully. The equally impressive sound mix and light show really highlights the atmosphere for this tune.

They pull out all the heavy hitters for the tail end of the set, And the Bands Played On, Wheels of Steel, a rousing performance of Carpe Diem highlight The Pilgrimage along with a Strong Arm of the Law/Solid Ball of Rock medley which leads seamlessly into their ‘should have been a number one single’ 747. We all witness a lovely moment during Denim & Leather when Biff catches a battle vest that a crowd member throws at him. He wears it until the guitar solo and then signs it and throws it back to the ecstatic fan. Quality. They close with Princess of the Night and confirm yet again that Saxon really are up there with the best in the world of metal. Looking around at the audience, it was great to see how many young people were in attendance wearing Saxon, Motorhead and Maiden shirts having the time of their lives. Bands like Saxon have worked so hard to maintain their roots as a true heavy metal band in every sense of the word. They deserve all the respect and success that continues to come their way. As Biff once sang: ‘Give us the stage, turn on the lights, fire up the sound, we’ll rock the nations’. They certainly stay true to their word.

Author: Kenny Kendrick

We all know about Skid Row’s past. I’m not going over old roads that’s been run over a million times because there are way too many potholes to avoid. All we need to focus on is the fact that Skid Row have put out their strongest album since the Slave to the Grind days. New vocalist Erik Gronwall has stamped himself all over the album and this means that there is a huge step up in quality. I really can’t emphasise enough how good he is.

This new opus is called The Gang’s All Here and the album cover with the five band members sporting matching stars and stripes leather jackets, shows a united front (well, back actually) and it really feels that Skid Row will at last lose the Sebastian Bach shaped shadow that has loomed over them for so long. The current line up of Dave Sabo, Rachel Bolan, Scotti Hill, Gronwall, and drummer Rob Hammersmith really are a juggernaut of classic metal. The album really gels as a whole and the crystal-clear production from Nick Raskulinecz ensures that the songs leap from the speakers with a newfound energy that the other incarnations of Skid Row have struggled to achieve.

The album opens with Hell or Highwater, it’s a perfect introduction with ex H.E.A.T. man Gronwall spitting out the lyrics and hitting some incredible high notes. The band really seem to have a new lease of life, there are crunchy, heavy riffs everywhere with more hooks than Leatherface’s butchering room. The title track gives a cheeky nod to Tricky Little Vicky who first appeared in the band’s 1989 song Rattlesnake Shake. Not Dead Yet is an up-tempo affair with another ear worm of a chorus, the band sound like they are having the time of their lives here, a real highlight of the album. I can imagine beaming smiles all round during the recording process.

Time Bomb is a down tuned monster with an absolute beast of a riff that Iommi would be proud of. Resurrected sounds like a band that have been just that. They really have been born again with this line up, strong songs, superb performances, and a real throwback to when the band were at their best. Nowhere Fast is another barnstormer with some great guitar work from Sabo and Hill. The album closes with World on Fire which is no doubt a hint to the last few years we have all experienced, as well as the environmental disasters that seem to be more and more frequent.

I really think that this incarnation of the band will be the most successful since the Bach heydays. Miss this album at your peril. The band are touring the UK and Europe from Oct 19th and judging by a few YouTube punters videos that I checked out before sitting down to review this album, they will be a force to be reckoned with live.

Sebastian who?

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

NWOBHM stalwarts Tysondog return with their latest collection of riffery – ‘Midnight’. The band enjoyed some limited success back in the 80s while being signed to Neat records (Venom etc). Since then, the band have been side lined with health issues inflicted on the original vocalist Clutch Carruthers (that’s never his real name) after he had a very serious car accident.

The band regrouped in 2008 and since then there have been more lineup changes, new vocalist Alan Ross (a much more sensible name) is the latest recruit. The band has recently signed with a new Danish label From the Vaults and Midnight is Tysondog’s debut release on the label. The album is well recorded and has some solid performances. These are by far the only positives….

Vocalist Ross has a touch of Blaze Bayley about his voice, it gets annoying after a while if I’m honest. The band are fine musos though and there’s some great playing here. It’s all a bit metal by numbers though, and there isn’t really a riff or melody that has stuck in my head. Tracks like opener ‘Battalion’ just drift on by in the background, double bass drums, generic riffs, and lyrics about war (yawn) are the order of the day. Saxon are the masters of this metal genre, unfortunately, Tysondog are just a pale imitation. Leave it to the big boy’s lads. The rest of the album just plods on, the title track has a few mildly interesting moments, but mostly it’s just uninspiring.

A very forgettable album that doesn’t really get out of second gear. Disappointing

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Hi Geoff, welcome back to Wales.

“Thank you”

Have you got good memories of being in Wales?

“The first time we came to Wales was with Ronnie James Dio in 1984. I have a distinct memory of being in Cardiff on a day off, being in a nice hotel, and being in the bathtub. A fire alarm got set off by some of Dio’s crew members, this was a tour of pranksters. They thought it was great fun, I had to get out of the bath, go all the way downstairs in my bathrobe, go outside and stand in the street!”

Oh dear! Ha ha.

Queensryche played my favourite ever venue – Newport Centre a few times, I believe the last time was supporting Judas Priest on their Epitaph tour in 2011?

That’s right, that was our last tour together”.

Did you keep busy during lockdown? Is there any more to come from Sweet Oblivion or have you recorded any more solo material?

I’ve done all kinds of things, that’s all I did really was hang out in the studio, write stuff, yeah, primarily that’s all I did. I worked on the Sweet Oblivion album, the Avantasia album. I also wrote some music for two different projects of my own that will hopefully be launched sometime this year. Busy, busy y’know?”

Did you manage to keep your voice in shape?

Well, it’s one thing to sing in the studio, it’s a whole different thing to sing live y’know? Starting back out live I had to work for a couple of weeks to get myself back on form again. Singing’s one of those things, that you just have to do, there’s no way around it. You have to power through it and do it. You just have to keep working at it.”

Why did you decide to play ‘Rage For Order’ in it’s entirety rather than say, ‘The Warning’?

“I love the album, absolutely love it. It’s my second favourite Queensryche album. My favourite is the last album we did together, Dedicated to Chaos, that’s the one I listen to the most.

What are your favourite songs to perform live from ‘Rage for Order’ and ‘Empire’?

“I love playing the whole albums. I tell the audience every night that it’s been on my bucket list to play Rage for Order, we never got to play it back in the day. We only played a couple of songs off the album, that’s kind of the curse of most albums, you never get to play everything y’know? You just get to play a couple of tracks because people wanna hear what they know. They are really into hearing what they are familiar with (laughs), some people are not musically adventurous. The best response you have from an audience when you’re playing your album or your songs is, you come out with a new album, you only play a couple of songs, the rest you play are oldies. Next year when you come back, they are starting to like and get used to those songs, it’s a cool dynamic”.

What are your memories about the recording of ‘Rage For Order’?

“The Rage For Order album was a really fun album to make from my perspective. We were working with Neil Kernon as a producer, and he was a wild man that we got to hang out with. One of the greatest personalities to be in the studio with, he could run with your idea, and he had such a vast technical background. At the time, I didn’t have much technical experience in the studio. I would say ‘I want my voice to do this, or I want this sound I’m making to do this’, he’d go ‘ok, I’ll just turn this up here, and oh!, let me plug this box in’ (laughs). He would always have a workaround on how to make it happen. He just came in with a jovial, happy personality, he was glad to be there and contribute, a really good ‘idea guy’. I loved working with him.

On the ‘Rage For Order’ tour, Queensryche supported the likes of Ratt, Bon Jovi and Ozzy Osbourne. Did you ever feel pressured to play with other artists who were very different musically to you guys?

“We weren’t trying to sound like anybody, that whole idea of making bands conform to each other, that was later. We came in that great era when they put all kinds of different music together. We played with Jethro Tull (laughs), Roger Waters and the Psychedelic Furs. We also loved bands like Ratt, we had some great tours together, in fact we had a pretty intense bowling competition with those guys while on tour (laughs).

How do you juggle the touring and family life?

It is what it is, my wife and I raised our kids on and off the road. They just grew up like that, they are used to travelling, eating in restaurants, being able to order a French meal (laughs). They have high expectations; they won’t go to a concert if they don’t have backstage passes y’know? (Laughs).  

This week marks the 34th anniversary of your seminal album ‘Operation:Mindcrime’, how does that feel?

“It makes me feel old! (laughs) Most things make me feel old nowadays, it’s a strange time when you get into your sixties, you’re looking at all of this life that you’ve had. My grandkids are approaching their teenage years now. I’m doing shows, and everyone in the audience, has grey and white hair! (laughs) It’s just a really strange time, I don’t really see myself that way,as being an old fart, even though I am an old fart!”

Do you think that a concept album like Mindcrime would work in today’s environment with people’s poor attention spans?

“I don’t was hard to get people to pay attention back in the eighties (laughs). That’s the thing about music, it’s a personal journey, music is a very personal thing for people. Some people are going to get it, some people aren’t. Some people hold music in a highly revenant regard in their lives, others don’t give a fuck”.

There’s a great line from the song Speak from the Mindcrime album: ‘The rich control the government, the media, the law’. Do you think that line is even more relevant in today’s society?

“I couldn’t even imagine the context of ‘rich’ in today’s situation with people being multi, multi billionaires y’know? (laughs) and then they don’t pay taxes, it seems incredibly wrong. A guy like Elon Musk, with a lot less that he paid for Twitter, he could eliminate hunger in the US for example. He could make a living wage for people, they could work and be paid a living wage which is enough to survive on, or at least live on. He could do so many wondrous things, but he buys a social media site, y’know? I can almost understand Jeff Bezos flying into space because they are looking for minerals and ways to mine that are not going to impact the earth”.

I must ask you about the Hear N Aid project back in 1984, how did you get involved?

“Ronnie James Dio called me, he said that was doing this thing and would I want to get involved in it. I absolutely said yes! I didn’t know what it was, or understand what it was, I just said yes, I’ll be there, just tell me what you want me to do. He sent me a cassette tape of the song Stars and a lyric sheet. A week later, I go down to LA and walked into A & M studios amidst this circus that was going on! There were so many people there, I was a very young man at the time, and I wasn’t used to that kind of situation where all of these very famous people that I looked up to and admired were all gathered together in this room. Many of them were sitting in the same room behind the glass listening to me sing my part which I didn’t know very well (laughs). It was very intimidating! It was a cool moment in time and Ronnie and Wendy (Dio) had great intentions and put their heart and soul into it. They brought together so many different people to participate, it was amazing. Especially as we didn’t have any social media or cell phones back then. I don’t know how they even got hold of all those people! (laughs).

You have a range of wine called Insania. Can we buy here in the UK?

“Normally yes, but everything is kinda messed up with the world transportation issues. If you’re in the UK you can order it from Germany, that’s where we make it, and they can send it to you. I need to find out if the Brexit thing will have an effect on the shipping too actually. Ironically, you can’t get it in the US (laughs) it’s because all of the ships are backloaded and delayed out a year. Thanks a lot Covid!”

You have another company called Backstage Travel, tell us about that. Is it back up and running? Fans can just book up and spend time with you eating and drinking?

“Yes, we just came on this tour from Tuscany, we did a weeklong trip with 32 people, and it was fun. If you like to travel, if you like to drink, if you like to eat great food, and if you like music, it’s a really fun trip to take y’know?”

What are your thoughts on the whole streaming debate?

As long as they pay people fairly, then I’m all about it y’know? It’s one thing to make music and another thing to sell it, if you have an outlet that’s selling your stuff and you are being compensated fairly, then you’re way ahead of the game. It’s funny, the whole vinyl comeback thing, they’ve been saying that since the eighties, ‘vinyl’s coming back’ (laughs) I dug out my old turntable a while ago, and it was very expensive back in the day. I put a record on and, yep, still got that crackly thing going on!”

I was wondering if you have seen any of the classically trained vocal coaches on YouTube who spend a lot of time analysing one performance of yours, the Tokyo concert from 1984, and specifically, the song Take Hold of the Flame?

“I’ve not seen any of them, but someone has mentioned them to me. Is it a good laugh or what?

Ha ha, on the contrary, the coaches are in awe of your voice. I think they are of the opinion that heavy metal is just noise. They certainly change their opinion after watching the video!

“Oh wow, I’ll have to check that out! Sounds interesting.”

On behalf of RPM Online, thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to me today, I’m looking forward to tonight’s show and I hope the rest of the tour goes well.

My pleasure, me too, so far so good. And on days like this, it doesn’t get any better”.

Author: Kenny Kendrick

Ghost first appeared on my radar when I saw them live at a festival, it may have been Download, or it may have been Sonisphere? Anyway…I didn’t really get them. I thought they were a little bit like Kiss, the image and the music don’t sit well together. I heard the odd song here and there; I loved the track Ritual from their debut ‘Opus Eponymous’ but didn’t really explore them much further at the time. It was with the release of the Rats video from 2018’s Prequelle that I really started to sit up and take notice of Papa and the boys. That album is never too far away from my turntable or CD player, it really is an exquisite piece of work, ‘Dance Macabre’ should have been a worldwide hit for the band, it’s their ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You‘! I then delved deeper into Ghost’s back catalogue and loved it all. There really is no denying Tobias Forge’s genius, and I genuinely feel that Ghost is one of the only bands around now that can take the reigns from the old guard and headline big shows and festivals.

I did of course wonder how they could ever top the Prequelle album, it really is their ‘Master of Puppets’ or ‘Led Zeppelin IV‘. The first glimpse of the new material was sprung on us last October with the first single and video ‘Hunter’s Moon’ which was included on the soundtrack to ‘Halloween Kills’, (I waited for the end credits in the cinema to hear it in all its glory). While it’s a decent enough track, it does feel a little bit like Forge just phoned it in.

Next single ‘Call Me Little Sunshine’, however, is Ghost doing what they do best. Atmospheric, heavy when it needs to be and downright catchy. The video is great too. Let’s get to the new album then! ‘Impera’ is Ghost’s fifth studio album, and it gives us twelve new tracks to get our teeth into. Opener ‘Imperium’ is an atmospheric instrumental leading into ‘Kaisarion’ which jumps out of the speakers with abandon. A brilliant, up-tempo song with some superb guitar work from whichever of the latest ghouls are crunching the fretboards.

Spillways’ is next up, it really shows us the vocal acrobatics that Forge is capable of, he has a fantastic range. Another ear worm of a song with a keyboard riff that isn’t a million miles away from Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’!Watcher In The Sky’ kicks off with a riff that George Lynch would be proud of, some lovely crunchy accents combined with another memorable chorus make this a real stand out track. Twenties is my favourite track on the album as I write this, just purely bonkers, it shouldn’t work but it works perfectly. A combination of prog, metal, and pop with some hilarious lyrics: We’ll be grabbing em’ all by the hoo – has. It’s just so damn catchy! Darkness ‘At The Heart Of My Love’ is one of those power ballads that Forge churns out effortlessly. It should be a major hit. Honestly, if Ghost could get mainstream airplay, I’m sure they would be huge, such is the quality of their songs. Griftwood sounds like something that would sit perfectly on a Ratt or Van Halen album from the 80s. I can imagine it on a montage from a Rocky film. The album closes with the epic ‘Respite On The Spitalfields’, a sprawling, atmospheric beast that enters a myriad of musical styles.

A solid album with everything thrown at bar the kitchen sink! Is ‘Impera’ as good as ‘Prequelle’? Not yet…But there’s still time.

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

Geordie metallers Satan first came to prominence as part of the NWOBHM movement in the late seventies and early eighties. They were considered as a proto thrash/speed metal band and were a cutting-edge band at the time. The band reformed in 2011 much to the delight of their loyal fan base. Satan signed with Metal Blade Records in 2018 and released Cruel Magic the same year.

Their latest effort, Earth Infernal tackles subject matter around climate change, politics, and capitalism. Very heavy topics for a very heavy band! The album was recorded in their home city of Newcastle with Dave Curle handling the engineering and mixing of the album with help from the band in the creativity department. I absolutely love the sound of the album; it has a rawness but still enough polish to highlight the great musicianship of the band. It has that NWOBHM feel, the instruments sound ‘real’, I’ve gone on record before stating my dislike of the sound of many of the NWOCR bands that seem to be everywhere and sound the same. None of that here I’m pleased to say!

Opening track Ascendancy kicks off with some nice twin guitar melodies before breakneck drums kick in and take the track into full-on headbanging mode. Vocalist Brian Ross wails away, his range is really shown off here, he sounds incredible. Burning Portrait highlights the skills of drummer Sean Taylor, his jazzy style gives him a Bill Ward vibe that fits perfectly here. Twelve Infernal Lords has an early Maiden feel with the twin guitar attack of guitarists Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey. The instrumental Mercury’s Shadow starts off with some atmospheric acoustic guitars being strummed aimlessly, the track builds nicely after this and showcases the band’s musical chops.

A Sorrow Unspent’ is another barnstormer, a real earworm this one! The album continues to impress with other highlights; ‘Luciferic’, ‘From Second Sight’ and ‘Poison Elegy’. ‘Earth Infernal’ is a quality traditional heavy metal album with strong songs, performances and production values, a very enjoyable listen. The album artwork by Eliran Kantor is fantastic too. If you love your old-school metal, you’ll love ‘Earth Infernal’, there’s plenty for rabid metal fans to sink their fangs into here. Hail Satan!!

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Author: Kenny Kendrick