Hils Ovation

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 29th October 2016.

If you’re going to celebrate Halloween in style, then it pays to metal up and with Gehtika, Eradikator, The Face Of Ruin, Obzidian and Djinova all set to blast away a few cobwebs and ghouls tonight, the only spirits likely to be left standing will be the alcoholic ones!

And getting tonight off to a flying start amidst a hailstorm of Death Metal were the Coventry based band Djinova. To describe the experience of this band as brutal just doesn’t cut it as these guys go way beyond that, with the bite in the vocals of Tony Overton showing no mercy at all. If you’ve not seen or heard these guys play live before, then believe me when I say they are well worth checking out.

tony-overton-djinova

Lots of good things have been happening to Obzidian recently and tonight’s set from the band can most definitely be added to that list aswell, as not a moment was wasted in their delivery of tracks both well known and new. With the forthcoming release of their new album due out on the 28th November, it was a bit of a treat to hear a couple of tracks in advance of that, with the official single ‘Sins Here Are Purified’ being an excellent example of what is about to be unveiled. But if you can’t wait until the end of the month to take a listen to this awesome track for yourself, then you can check out the video for it over on the bands Facebook page now!

matty-jenks-obzidian

You can’t pass up Halloween without a spot of fancy dress and tonight we were besieged with the presence of many great demons, witches, zombies and the odd Beetlejuice or two. But even amidst all those scary characters, it was the figures of Alex Mumford and The Face Of Ruin with their visual homage to Linda Blair and The Exorcist that made the night for me, as never in a million years did I expect that! Thankfully, Alex spared us from the 360 degree head rotation and also the projectile vomit – which was a great relief to me from my position in the pit but what we got instead was one hell of a great melodic death metal set that won’t be forgotten for a long time to come!

alex-mumford-the-face-of-ruin

Our penultimate band of the evening came in the guise of Eradikator and in capturing the spirit of the event, these guys gave the O2 Academy3 quite a performance tonight. With members of Gehtika and The Face Of Ruin taking to the stage aswell, Eradikator’s adrenaline fuelled thrash flowed freely with Pat Cox absolutely owning the stage tonight. Next up for the band is a slot at The Midlands Metal Crusade VI on the 26th November which will definitely be one not to miss!

pat-cox-eradikator

When it comes down to picking a Halloween headliner then Gehtika have got to be a dam near perfect choice as these guys are true masters at what they do. Tonight’s set from the band saw them grabbing Halloween by the horns and serving up a blistering death metal set that was as addictive to listen to as their performance was to watch.

simon-timms-gehtika

The one thing I really love about this band is the theatrical manner in which they deliver their sets and tonight’s gentlemanly shenanigans sat blissfully well with the audience and other band members alike.

anthony-knight-gehtika

Sadly, my enjoyment of their set had to be cut short tonight but not before catching them play their anthemic track ’A Monster In Mourning’ which for me, was the highlight of the night.

Tonight’s celebration of All Hallows’ Eve was certainly done in style, with all five bands putting on quite a show that most definitely hit the spot!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Hils Ovation

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 22nd October 2016.

This evenings Hils Ovation event is set to be quite a night and getting tonight well underway were Koncept from the Tamworth and Telford areas, and here we have a band whose name serves them well, as it describes their metal perfectly. Koncept brings together the experience and influences of Jamie Gibson, Craig Beniston and Sam Evans and tonight’s seven song set provided much food for thought as it captured the bands creative approach well and certainly gave me an appetite for more. The band released their debut album ‘Closure’ back in April of this year and this is a must to check out if you haven’t already!

sam-evans-koncept

With a pretty much last minute slot opening up in tonight’s line up, our next band Parkhurst made quick work of stepping up to the plate and even though it’s only been a matter of weeks since their last appearance at one of Hils Ovations night’s, there was no denying how much their confidence had grown over that short time frame. There was also news of a forthcoming EP from the band, although there is no firm release date for it as yet but to echo the words of Jak Bunney, ’Just as long as we get it, that’s all that matters!’

jak-bunney-parkhurst

The midway point of the night saw Unhinged take to the stage and in advance of seeing them play live, they’d been described to me as ‘quite a lively bunch’ but even within the first ten minutes of their set, it became blatantly apparent that that description was most definitely an understatement. Lead singer Mike Hodges wears the crown of lead singer and front man exceptionally well with the kind of energy that has you falling over your feet just trying to keep up. And speaking of feet, he is definitely the one and only person I have ever seen lick the soles of somebody’s shoes whilst they’re still wearing them!! The rest of the set saw Mike raising hard punking hell from various positions within the Slade Rooms and by that I mean whilst hanging onto the lighting rig, pacing around the room or precariously sitting on the shoulders of enthused supporters. The bands set was certainly a community affair as many were eager to show their support, including Bryan Hancox from At Dawn We Attack who was game to share the mic for a song or two! I’m not sure whether the bands name (Unhinged) represents their on stage persona or whether it describes the state they leave the audience in, but either way they were excellent tonight and I loved ‘em!

mike-hodges-unhinged

Now by normal standards, Unhinged would be a hard act to follow but with Broken Jaw primed and ready to roll next, normal didn’t even come into it as these guys will never be called shy when it comes to shenanigans! The bands set tonight not only included their self penned songs but also a rather unique cover on ‘Summer Nights’, the memory of which is going to stay with me for a long time to come. And once again, there was no holding back others from joining in with the band and it was pretty cool to see members from the other bands in tonight’s line up quick to join in. Broken Jaw are a fantastic band to go and see live and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do!

nutzie-shelley-and-lee-stockwell-broken-jaw

Our headlining band At Dawn We Attack are all regular faces on the West Midlands metal scene and having seen them play live before on numerous occasions, it was already a done deal that these guys were going to be worthy headliners tonight.

bryan-hancox-at-dawn-we-attack

Amidst the strains of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ and cheers of appreciation, At Dawn We Attack took to the stage and laid siege upon the Slade Rooms with their nine song set that included melodic metal core tracks such as ‘Nooses For Neckties’ and ‘Capitulate’. It was clear that the band greatly value all the support that they receive and Bryan Hancox captured this sentiment perfectly, when he asked the audience to give themselves a round of applause as it was because of them that they got to do all of this.

chris-meddings-at-dawn-we-attack

In addition to the fact that all five individual bands put 100% into their sets tonight – and then some, the one stand out memory I shall carry with me about this gig was the way in which everyone just gelled so well together both on stage and off. Tonight’s event contained the kind of camaraderie amongst the bands that truly was awesome to witness and something that will leave it’s mark for a long time to come.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

The Simpletone

‘Angels’ Share’ released 1st November 2016.

Having followed The Simpletone’s journey since the summer of 2010, whether I liked it or not, I just knew we had to review this highly anticipated album that the band have so gracefully named AngelsShare which was self released on 1st November 2016.

angels-6

Of course like all music critics out there today, we all have our own opinions as to whether a band is any good or not, purely for the simple fact that we spend so much of our spare time watching live bands and I have to say that when asked to review an album for a band, I usually run for the hills screaming “WIFE” and she normally sorts it for me. To be honest, I struggle with being positive and critical at the same time, especially when taking into consideration all the time and effort the band has gone to with writing and production and of course, not to mention practice time aswell but when it comes to The Simpletone, it positive news all day long – true Rock ‘n’ Roll without the bullshit.

Just to give people some back-ground information about these guy’s from the Cambridgeshire area – the band released their first album ‘Rampennyback in 2012, then went on to release a second album called ‘Dark Matter’ in 2014 which I also had the pleasure of reviewing. The Simpletone are without a doubt in a league of their own and over the years, I’ve watched them grow into the formidable force that they have become today. A good old fashioned rock band with attitude, relentless raw energy and bursting with anti-establishment written all over them, after all what’s a rebel without a cause and why not, it’s only rock n roll but we like it!

This album is for fans across the globe because as expected, Angelsshare delivers a thoroughly magical mix of rock with groovy rolls. I’m also pleased to say that it still retains some darker forces with an alternative edge plus a few twists and turns throughout.

The first song ‘Out of Control‘ was what I’d call good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll that places The Simpletone still firmly on track. The band have stayed true to their roots as masters of musical evolution following a willingness to learn, explore and create that, which has endless possibilities. This song is an album seller!

The band have released a video for ‘Storm Chaser‘ in support of the new album so do check it out. I think it’s a beautiful and exhausting track all at the same time with lots of low and highs, almost like the story of a bumble bee stuck in a room bashing it’s head against a window trying to find a way out, a relentless battle and I have to say I love the keyboard in this track – feed me more Simpletone, now!

The album continues on with the ever so distinctive sound of ‘Black Box‘, with it’s filling of heavier rock riffs that fuel a desire that make me wanna get groovy. The devil sure found his way into this one and for me it is a lyrical master class with the perfect mix of sound and vision. This track is followed by ‘Fire In The Sky‘ which is a good title for this track but I’d consider changing the name to zoom, have a listen and you’ll know what I mean. Please add another two minutes to this song Glenn as it’s an amazing track, just a real shame it’s over before it begins and you’ve definitely left me wanting more!

The sixth track on the album ‘Nehemiah‘ really got me thinking about how different it was from the others as in the absence of Glenn’s distinctive vocals, the voice of the band is heard through the content of drum, bass and guitar. Maybe somebody lit a spliff before writing it as it starts off as a really lightly chilled ambient kind of acoustic track which then bursts into one of the best guitar solo’s I’ve heard in decades.

As we head towards the end of the album, things start to slow down slightly with track seven – it only gets better. A degree slower than the first few songs but it has a great feeling to it and suddenly bursts into the mayhem of guitar riffing madness that feeds any true rockers heart with epic vibes.

Things are definitely back on track with the next little number, ‘Above So Below‘ and for me, this track sits perfectly in the Simpletone comfort zone and can easily be enjoyed by all music lovers. A well written structured mix and one of my favorite tracks on the album so I’m sure this track will be a very popular.

The band have also released a second single in the form of ‘Easy Come‘ and it’s well worth a watch to see what you think but for me, this is a plain and simple master piece from the Simpletone once again and as Glenn clearly states in this song ‘their are no rules in Rock n Roll’.

The final track on the album is ‘Hunters‘ and here enters the ghost in the machine or should I say the storm is coming. There are definitley darker forces a foot here, as this track raises two fingers up to the establishment with a message that the only real democracy that exists in this country today is Rock n Roll. A perfect finale to a truly enjoyable album from The Simpletone and one which I can confidently recommend.

Full track list: 1.Out of Control 2.Love Street 3.Storm chaser 4.Black box 5.Fire In The Sky 6.Nehemiah 7.Day By Day 8.As Above so below 9.Easy Come 10.Hunters.

The Simpletone: Glenn Eastoe, john Davison, Craig Seymour and Tom Cahill.

For more details visit The Simpletone.

Review by Martin Wardle.