HRH Mag Issue XV

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s t n e t Con

a! y r o f t n e t n o c Here’s some



06 Skarlett Riot 10 Ethyrfield 12 Adrian Smith 14 King of The Pit 18 David Ellefson 20 Cannibal Corpse 22 Rockfit 24 Wildstreet 26 Verity White 28 Viki’s Fresh Hell 36 The Outlaw Orchestra 38 Marty Friedman 42 Within Temptation 46 Joanna Connor 48 Editor’s Pick of 1996 50 DeWolff 52 The Damn Truth 56 Toto’s Lukather / Williams 60 Cicadastone 61 Ghosts of Men 62 Redtank’s Guide to Hardcore Punk 68 Reviews 90 Black Pistol Fire 92 Illuminae 94 Recall The Remains 96 Atom Heart Mutha 100 Enquire Within 102 The Dark Circle Interview

Welcome to volume

Welcome to the (kinda) new look HRH Mag – where evolution rather than revolution is king. Talking of which, the music business seems to be coming out the other side of the pandemic – at least in the UK and Spain – with new virtual skill sets and a willingness to adapt, which is great news. However NOTHING beats seeing a band in-the-flesh, up close and personal, and that’s what HRH is all about.

It’s looking like we are on track to finally see bands on stage again in front of a crowd at the end of August for HRH Sleaze as well as the welcome return of our very own ‘rock factor’ – HRH Highway to Hell - the night before and we honestly cannot wait. But to tide us over, check out some of the best images from HRH events of the last few years courtesy of our very own official photographer and king-of-the-pit Simon Dunkerley. He chose his favourites and also gives us a lowdown on how he prepares for a live festival shoot. Also in this issue, we have our cover stars - the amazing Within Temptation. Our non-stop-dynamo photojournalist Adam Kennedy chatted with front-lady Sharon Den Adel as she reveals how much they have missed being on the

THIS ISSUe’s Key players Adam Kennedy

Adam is a powerhouse photo-journalist who seemingly never ever stops except perhaps to tie his shoelaces, but he is so bad ass he might not even do that if there’s a a sniff of a rock’n’roll story. Check out his lockdown busting virtual photoshoots for proof that this man never sleeps.

Viki Ridley

The wonderful Viki has been a part of the HRH family since before the beginning of time itself but you’d never guess from her youthful looks and boundless energy. She discovers new bands on an almost daily basis and sometimes even succeeds in getting them to write enough words for her Fresh Hell piece in this very publication.

Si Redtank

Our guiding light when it comes to the more extreme genres of rock, Si can be heard presenting the HRH Punk Show plus Redtank’s Weekender Show on Hard Rock Hell Radio every single week, like a clockwork dynamo of the airwaves. Or something like that. A huge thank you to ALL the hardworking bands, photographers and writers that have contributed to this issue, many of whom such as Robbie Johns, Neil ‘Not’ Coggins, Martin Short, Steve Beastie, Jezebel Steele and station manager John Ellis can be heard presenting their amazing shows on Hard Rock Hell Radio, so check them out!


road and the background to their latest single “The Purge” and Iconic six-stringer Steve Lukather takes time out to talk about his solo project with co-Toto star Joseph Williams – who returns the favour – if that’s confusing, go check out what the pair are up to on page 56! If that wasn’t enough we welcome Iron Maiden’s legendary axeman Adrian Smith as he talks about his latest project with Winery Dogs’ Richie Kotzen, we meet the rising stars of British metal Skarlett Riot, and get up close and personal with Megadeth’s Marty Friedman. Not forgetting the regular features such as Viki’s Fresh Hell, Atom Heart Mutha Recommends and the almost biblical Redtank’s Guide to Hardcore Punk, plus my own selection of albums from 1996 and we have plenty for everyone in this issue. See you all at an event really soon – take care and keep rockin’! Toby, Editor Spring 2021


The Team

Managing Editor and Design - Toby Winch, Contributing Writers: Adam Kennedy, John Ellis, Viki Ridley, Robbie Johns, Neil ‘Not’ Coggins, Diane Davies, Simon Redtank, Jo Crosby, Doug Bearne, Simon ‘Spindles’ Potthast, Michelle Evans, Martin Short, Steve Beastie, Dennis Jarman, Raz White, Russell Peake, Jezebel Steele, Toby Winch Contributing Photographers: Adam Kennedy, Simon Dunkerley, Kelly Spiller, John McMurtrie, Melody Myers, Alex Morgan, Sam Huddlestone, Paul Harris, Christine Samaroo, Susumu Miyawaki, Satellite June, Alex Solca, Lisa Lyddon, Maria Kuczara Advertising - 020 7097 8698 Subscriptions Visit or email


Publisher - Dark Watch BVI Limited -

Chic Festivals

Chairman / Founder - Jonni Davis Chief Operating Officer - Fleur Elliott Media and Label Director – John Ellis - Head of HRH Press & Media Sales - Toby Winch - HRH Official Photographer - Simon Dunkerley - All contents ©HRH Mag are published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored, transmitted or used in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. HRH Mag is a trading name for Dark Watch BVI Ltd registered in British Virgin Islands (BVI). All information contained in this publication is for information only and, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Dark Watch BVI Ltd cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price and other details of products or services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control and we are not responsible for their contents or any changes or updates to them. If you submit unsolicited materials to us you automatically grant Dark Watch BVI Ltd a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine - including any physical or digital format of said magazine throughout the world. Any material sent is at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Dark Watch BVI Ltd nor any of their employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.

“Out in the sunshine, the sun is mine, sun is mine, I shot my love today, would you cry for me”

skarlett riot

SKARLETT RIOT “As you go through different stages of life, you have more to write about - it’s naturally made the music more exciting”

Hailing from North East Lincolnshire in the UK, Skarlett Riot have been providing us with superb music ever since their debut album “Tear Me Down” was released in 2013. Since then, the hard-hitting quartet have been constantly developing their sound and honing their craft. As the band members developed as artists, so did the music. The band released 2 EPs, “We Are The Brave” in 2015 and 2016’s “Sentience”. 2017 saw the band release their second album, “Regenerate” via Despotz Records. The album truly encaptured that unmistakeable Skarlett Riot sound that we know and love, and also gave us the first glimpse into the heavier rock sound that the band were naturally developing into. 2020 saw the bands new bass player Tim Chambers officially join after Martin Shepherd left the band following the birth of his daughter. Fast forward to 2021 and the long-awaited 3rd album “Invicta”, released again via Despotz Records. This album shows not only the darker, heavier direction the band are taking but how the band have truly gelled and developed as musicians. The culmination of years of experience and natural growth shines through

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on this hard-hitting album right from the start - with album opener “Breaking The Habit” to the last track and first single release “Human”, which gave listeners the first glimpse of the harsher/growling vocals that compliment the Skarlett Riot sound. We spoke to singer Skarlett to get the low down on the band and their plans for the future. It’s been three years since the last album, Regenerate. How was the recording of this album and did it differ much from the recording of Regenerate? Well, it wouldn’t have, but because of the pandemic and all that! We actually went in to record Invicta in March last year, so that’s obviously as soon as lockdown started and it was that evening that we turned up to the recording studio, with our suitcases ready to actually stay there for a month like we normally do - and you know, play Xbox, a bit of pool, and do all the recording stuff. But it came on the news that night that lockdown was starting the day after - the recording guys were like, I’m sorry, but you can’t stay here -

skarlett riot

because it wasn’t a place with proper beds and stuff. It was just sofas. So they were like, we have to lock down, so we got sent straight home. The drums were already recorded, they were done around January, so our drummer was kind of done. It was about August time when things started to open a little bit back up again, so we all went in individually. I went and did my vocals one week, then guitars were done another week, so it was really disjointed. It was very different in that respect, but we did record at the same studio, and we had a little bit more time to actually play with production - like violins and piano and different elements and textures, which we wouldn’t have had as much time to play with for Regenerate, because it was all staggered. We delayed the release of the album as well. We were putting it back because of the pandemic. So we had a little bit more time to play with the production element this time round, so you’ll probably hear a little bit more of that in the album as well. We’ve got brass elements going off as well and the usual bits and bobs! It sounds absolutely fantastic, I know when people get it home, they’re going to be totally bowled over. There’s still that unmistakeable Skarlett Riot sound to it, but it’s a bit heavier, not just because of the growling/extreme vocals, so just tell us about that direction of the band? Yeah. It’s kind of naturally progressed that way. I think some people have kind of said you’re doing it on purpose, but for us, I think as we’ve matured together over the years, it’s naturally progressed heavier. It’s just gone that way. And I think because we’re so used to working with each other, now we

tend to write and see how can we better ourselves individually? How can we keep it exciting? And we always like to write from the heart and have songs which we absolutely love playing live. So I think naturally it’s got heavier because we’re comfortable with each other and we’re wanting to experiment and just think out of the box. And, for myself vocally, I’ve always done clean vocals. It’s never really interested me to do any screaming, but I thought, well, what else can I learn? What can I add, for myself, and the technique and just learning how to do it always interested me. So I thought I’ll learn a bit. And then I thought, hmm, should I add a bit? It’s just, it just naturally progressed that way this time. What about the artwork for the album? Because sometimes that can get lost in this digital era of streaming and downloading? We used a lady called Christiane Robinson. She’s from Wales and she was just on our guitarist’s Facebook wall. She’s done a few bits for some bigger artists and I thought, I really love her style, and we haven’t used her before. but I thought her style fit in with what we’d done with Regenerate, but just took it one dimension further. So the artwork you’ll see is someone coming out of a desert sand ruin, and the persons meant to show like a sense of strength and empowerment, as if the demons underneath are trying to grab the person, but the person’s rising above, and making their way to the top. So yeah, it’s quite a strong artwork. And I think the label is looking into doing something with the artwork for NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens), which is a new thing apparently - I don’t know much about these NFTs, but I think we’re working towards the digital artwork to go on this NFT as well. Continued...

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skarlett riot Your first album came out in 2013. How do you feel you’ve evolved as an artist since that first recording and how you feel the band has progressed? Wow. Just thinking back to 2013 now, even though it doesn’t feel like two minutes ago, the album feels like a lifetime ago. It’s how much we’ve progressed as a band. We’ve definitely matured together since that first album - we were still finding our feet with ‘Tear Me Down’. It was very rock and pop. More of the pop sort of element. I still love listening back to the old stuff, but at the time it felt like it was a good step forward for us. It gave us a foundation, a basis and a starting point for us to progress. With the album, we did our first headline. So it stepped us up, but yeah, Invicta is a lot more mature. I think the lyrics are more mature as well, but just generally as you get older, you’ve got more experiences, more things to write about more things going wrong. But also more things going right, so yeah, just generally I think as you mature and as you go through different stages of life and experiences you have more to write about, I think it’s naturally made the music more exciting. Has your writing process as a band changed since you started? To be honest, no, it’s always been our guitarist Dan - he writes a little guitar riff and when he’s happy with something and he feels like he’s got a little bit of something that’s going to work, he will then take it to his brother Luke on the drums and then they’ll just jam something out and then it’ll get sent to our bass player. So it’s always been that way. And I’ve always added my lyrics pretty much at the end. Sometimes I’ll write a little bit of a verse, but I found, as the years have gone by, that it’s better for me to write last because then they’ve got all the elements written how they like them - because I can start getting excited and write too early and then things change because nobody liked this bit or that bit. And then I’m like, oh no, no, all my vocals have got to change. So now I just wait until those guys have got the solid foundation and I’ll put my vocals over the top. But it’s always been a similar structure to how we write, which I think is good in a way because we know how each other work and it’s just helped us progress as we’ve gone on. We know touring is in the air at the moment, but you’ve got Call of the Wild which is still scheduled for July. Are you planning anything for release day, maybe like an online streaming event or a get together where you listen to the album? That is a really cool idea. We haven’t got anything in place yet, but I think something like that, maybe on the release date, because at the moment we don’t really have the technology or the money to be able to do a proper live stream of a full concert. It’s something I really want to do, but I’d want to do it like the big guys do it. So I think it’d be quite cool to maybe do like one of those YouTube listen parties for the album to be able to involve the fans on the day of the release. And yeah, then we have Call the Wild in July and then depending on what happens, we’re hoping to be out again towards the end of the year. Is there a track on the album that you particularly struggled with, writing lyrically for? No, it kind of came quite naturally this time, lyrically. We did kind of write in one go before we went into the studio. So the last song that was getting written, I felt like I was running dry. I felt like all my lyrical ideas had gone into all the other songs and there was just this last one song to write. I think because it was the last one to write, you’ve got that much pressure on yourself. Come on - you’ve only got one more and nothing will come out. But in the end, that song was stronger. That’s the last one that went on the album, the lyrics were actually written, and the melody, by Dan. So that was the first song of any album where someone had written it for me, and they actually turned out really well. It’s one of my favourite songs, but I think it’s a bit like a breath of fresh air because it’s a little bit different to how you would write because somebody else put their spin on it. So I found that quite exciting. What’s been your biggest learning curve so far? That’s a difficult one. I’d say don’t rush ahead. You know, you have to have patience. I’ve always been wanting things right there, right here, right now. And it’s just not how it is. Like 10 years down the line as a band together, we’re still developing. We’re still not where we want to be, but I think that’s having patience when you’ve built yourself up, from the ground from nothing from a small town and you haven’t had help from like, you know,

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your dad’s not in a huge band, who’s going to be able to give you a few favours - you’ve worked yourself up from scratch. And I think you’ve got to look back and actually be proud of where you’ve come from - from day one to now, rather than thinking, well, I’m still not where I want to be. I’m still not doing all the arenas like I wanted to be doing. But I just think that’s the music industry, it’s difficult. There are a lot of bands and there’s a lot of people wanting the same thing. And I think you’ve just got to stay focused and enjoy playing live, because when it comes down to it, even if you’re not where you imagined you would be 10 years later, it’s all about the experiences, playing live and just having a good time together. Because no matter what happens, when you look back on all of this, it’s just pointless if you don’t enjoy it and have a good time together. So I’d say that rather than being hard on yourself, like wishing you were further on or wishing you were doing this that and the other, just actually enjoy the experience in the day-to-day because, you know, there’s many people who don’t even get that. So Skarlett, is there a fantasy band member you’d love to work with or producer in particular that you’d love to work with? Oh, that’s difficult, but I have two favourite bands at the minute, Bullet for my Valentine and Papa Roach. I would absolutely love to do a duet with Jacoby Shaddix, it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. I love his style, I love him on stage. And since I started singing at the age of 12, I was flicking through the music channels and Papa Roach would be on or Bullet would be on and they got me into wanting to be in a rock band. I was like, this is cool. This is what I want to do, so definitely one of them. Do you have any unusual talents or party tricks? Well, I don’t know if you’ve seen, but I do some pet portraits, drawings alongside the band. So I draw other people’s pets and that’s like one of my little businesses that I do alongside the band and it is so relaxing because the bands so full-on usually anyway, like touring and everything, so much adrenaline and noise, and then with the drawing it’s just relaxing to get my crayons out all day. But yeah, my drawings are Skarlett Sketches on Facebook if you want to check me out. This sounds like the setup to a bad joke, but bear with me. So the band walk into a bar, who is the first to get the round in? Hmm. I would say Luke, definitely, Luke our drummer. He’s definitely a partier and loves a good drink. He loves a good brew. He likes a good party, and a good socialize as well. So yeah, definitely Luke. We have to keep him away from the bar before he goes on stage and tell him no, that that’s for afterwards. Who’s the first one on the karaoke machine? Oh, me, definitely me, can’t get me off of it! And who is the first to go home or pass out? That’s Luke as well. He gets the drinks in and is first out. Like one time I remember we went out together when Martin first joined the band, 2015 or something like that. And, by 10 o’clock at night, half past 10, Luke was on his hands and knees trying to get home outside. Is there any country you would really love to take the band to, on the bucket list perhaps? Obviously, we love the UK because that’s where we’re from. So the first urgency for me is to actually get back to the UK venues and see all our Skarlett Riot family and just be able to actually hang with them. But bucket lists? We’ve never been to America. We would love to actually get over to the USA, more in Europe as well. We love Europe, but, yeah, USA we haven’t done yet. So that’s on the bucket list. So before we let you go, just tell us how we can pre-order and buy the album and get ourselves some merchandise, and get your music? Yeah, sure. Well, we’re on Facebook and Instagram. we run that ourselves. So if you message us on there, we’re happy to speak and answer any questions that you’ve got. The website for pre-orders is on there as well. If you Google Skarlett Riot Invicta Pre-orders, it’s on the Despotz Records website there. And, yeah, we hope you’re all gonna love the album and we can’t wait to release it on May 7th! WORDS: ROBBIE JOHNS

new album: now or nowhere produced by bob rock


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ETHYRFIELD You don’t get spotted by Tony Iommi for no reason - but that’s exactly what happened to Ethyrfield’s Ben Cornish, who has been mentored by the legendary Sabbath six-stringer ever since. Together with brother Zach (vocals and bass), and Dan Aston (drums) the young trio came together originally as New project, before changing their moniker to Ethyrfield in 2017. An incendiary live band, the lads have appeared at Hard Rock Hell XIII and Bloodstock despite being just teenagers. We spoke to Ben as he took some time out from preparations for releasing their first full-length recording – In Delirium - which is reviewed later in this issue. Good Afternoon! Where do we find Ethyrfield today? At the moment we are preparing to release our debut album In Delirium, which we have worked on over the last year or so. You guys certainly started your music careers early - for the uninitiated, tell us how the band came about? The band really came about from me and my brother jamming and playing music together at home. From that we knew we wanted to write our own music and play that music to an audience. We had this need to start playing our own material right away, we just needed a drummer who also wanted this. We went through a few drummers to begin with but they just weren’t committed enough to even practice the songs. Eventually we found Dan who was recommended by his drum teacher. We invited him to a practice and he was great, better than anyone else we had seen. We asked him to join the band the next day. Since then we’ve been gigging and writing together and improving as musicians together.

How did you approach the writing of In Delirium? First impressions hint at a more complex, almost progressive structure to the songs. Was that intentional? We have been kind of moving towards a more progressive sound naturally over the last 2 years. Probably due to our musical taste expanding to progressive rock bands. We didn’t fully intentionally set out to write a prog album. It’s something that just happened. We didn’t feel like we needed to please anyone and write songs more easy listening if that makes any sense. We have been kind of wanting to do something different with our writing and make something that didn’t sound like the generic rock sound. Who would you say are the biggest influences on the band, both musically and personally? We love loads of bands and are always being influenced by many different types of music. The main influences at the moment have to be progressive bands like Rush, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Dream Theater and Haken. We are also heavily influenced by ‘90s grunge bands like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.

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It’s been a tough twelve months for the music industry – how has it affected you as a band and as individuals? We have really missed the live shows. For all of us we’ve been gigging fairly regularly since we were 10 so for it all to stop so suddenly it felt very strange. Thankfully we have kept ourselves busy with the writing and recording of our album. Will we see Ethyrfield on the road again in 2021? Which venue are you looking forward to playing at again most? The venues and gigs we are looking forward to this year are Love Rocks on 12th June, Thekla, Bristol supporting Sons Of Liberty 19th June, SOS Festival, Manchester in July, although awaiting confirmation and Fuel Club, Cardiff 25th September supporting Scarlet Rebels and of course HRH ABC in Great Yarmouth in November. Are there any other up and coming bands or artists we should be keeping an eye out for that you’ve discovered recently? Definitely a band worth checking out is one we are good friends with called


“We’ve been wanting to do something different with our writing and make something that didn’t sound like the generic rock sound”

Kaluss. We have played a few gigs together and hopefully will play a lot more in the future after COVID f**ks off. When is the new album, “In Delirium”, due out and what formats are you looking to release it on – we hear vinyl is becoming quite popular again! The album will be released on June 16th on all music streaming platforms and also be released on CD and on our personal favourite - vinyl! Thanks for catching up with me today, you get the last word...what’s it going to be? We would like to thank yourself and everyone who has supported us over the years and we can’t wait for you all to hear the new music. We hope you enjoy it and hope to see you all when we can start gigging again!


adrian smith

ADRIAN SMITH Talks Smith/Kotzen

Hard rock heavyweights Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen are getting ready to showcase a further side to their repertoires. Of course, we’ve seen these talented axemen lighting up the stage with the likes of Iron Maiden, The Winery Dogs as well as their respective solo projects. However, when you bring this incredibly talented and versatile pair together their collective output is nothing short of explosive. Smith/Kotzen’s eponymous debut album was recorded in the Turks and Caicos Islands in February 2020. The majority of the heavy lifting on the album was undertaken by Smith and Kotzen themselves, who both produced and co-wrote all of the songs, shared lead vocals as well as trading both guitar and bass duties. And if that wasn’t enough Kotzen even played the drums on five tracks on the record. Smith’s Iron Maiden bandmate Nicko McBrain along with talented sticksman Tal Bergman make guest appearances on the record. HRH Mag recently caught up with rock legend Adrian Smith to get the lowdown on the debut Smith/Kotzen album, his love of Free, and the duo’s plans going forward.

In terms of the release of the album and your plans as a band, has the pandemic impacted how you intended to take things forward? The pandemic just knocked everyone for six. I think probably the album would have been out last year, but we decided to go with it now. It’s just the way it is really. I mean, what are you going to do? We had the album ready to go. I mean apart from anything, people need some sort of entertainment during these dark times. So, we thought we would put it out anyway. The only thing that it’s affected has been plans for live shows, which we had, but unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to do now. Maybe in the future, we can do them. I understand that you met Richie in LA. Do you remember the first time that you got together and jammed? Did you know straight away that the musical chemistry was right for this project? Yeah, well we were sort of friends. My wife and I along with Richie and his wife would go out for dinner. We would have parties at our house. I have a studio and we have people over. Richie and I jammed. We played Stevie Ray, Bad Company, that sort of stuff. We like the same kind of music. My wife who co-manages me in this project said, why don’t you two get together and write. And I was like, well, I can give that a try?

“It could be a recipe for a noodling disaster...” page 12

adrian smith

WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTOS: JOHN MCMURTRIE Richie’s a great singer and guitar player - what does he need me for? But we got together, and I said to him, I want to sing a bit as well. So, we both sat down, we both had microphones and guitars. I think I had the riff to a song called ‘Running’ and I played and sung over that and then Richie had the chorus. We discovered we had real chemistry writing together, which is not a common thing. I mean I’ve sat down with some people who are quite well-known people, and it just hasn’t worked. You sit in a room and it’s really awkward. But with Richie, we had two songs in the first afternoon that we sat down together - so we knew it was going to work. Listening to the record with songs like ‘Taking My Chances’ and ‘Running’, it’s a very different pace to what you both usually do. Have you always known that you’ve wanted to do a project like this? Well, I grew up listening to Seventies music when I was fifteen. In the early Seventies - Free, Humble Pie and Deep Purple were a massive part of my life. That’s what got me into playing music. It got in my blood and I still love that kind of music. So, for a long time, I’ve wanted to make this kind of album - hard rock, classic rock, whatever you want to call it with a bit of blues in there. I’ve come to appreciate blues music over the last few years as well. Yeah, I’ve wanted to make an album like this. I’ve always wanted to collaborate with someone. I’ve done stuff on my own. I’ve been through that solo album stuff and it’s great, you have total control, but you just don’t have anyone to bounce off. I remember doing solo albums in the studio and playing something and looking around desperately for someone to say, why don’t you try this or try that, and no one does, because it’s up to you. But if you’ve got someone to work with it’s fantastic, especially if you’re heading in roughly in the same direction - which we were. It was just really a pleasure recording it. I’m a Bluesman myself and this album, when I listened to it, resonated with me a lot. I listen to a track like ‘Scars’, and it’s got that kind of Seventies, blues rock influence. It kind of reminded me a little bit of Robin Trower in places. How did that sound come to fruition? We were just sitting around, like I said, we were both plugged in, we were in the studio. I started noodling around with that chord sequence at the beginning and I sang the line “sometimes I feel like a helpless child” and it went from there really. Richie had the idea for the ‘Scars’ lyric - where we’ve all been through stuff in our lives that affects us deeply and that affects how we view life. That’s what that song is about really. We spent a lot of time on the lyrics as well. But most of the songs deal with just real-life stuff. I suppose the blues connection is just getting stuff off your chest - isn’t it? That’s how they invented it. It was therapeutic. You just go and wail some blues and then you feel much better. That’s a very big generalization for this record because it’s not

really a blues album. It’s more of a hard rock album with a touch of blues to it, but it’s always there. It just makes you feel good to play, doesn’t it? So, a lot of the songs deal with life experience. I have to mention ‘Glory Road’ because I think that’s my favourite track on the album and it’s got a nod to Free in there when I listen to it. How much would you say Paul Kossoff inspired you as a guitarist? Yeah, definitely. I mean, one of the first albums I ever got into, that made me want to pick up a guitar or make music was “Free Live!”. All that stuff, ‘I’m a Mover’, ‘Mr. Big’, ‘All Right Now’ are absolutely fantastic. What a fantastic band. It was a shame they didn’t continue, and they were so young. ‘Glory Road’ especially in the verses - it’s Free meets Bad Company with sort of a more sing-along chorus. So, I had to get that out of my system definitely. Yeah, Paul Kossoff what a player he was, but gone too soon sadly. Both yourself and Richie are very versatile and this album illustrates that. You collectively performed most of the parts on the album. Richie did five songs on the drums. I know you both shared bass and vocal duties and then you produced the album as well. You must have had a very strong vision of where you wanted to take this album from the start? Yeah, I mean, we never talked about it. I kept banging on to him about Free because I wanted to hear him sing some raw blues. I’d love to maybe explore that on the next album. He’s got a fantastic voice. But it was unspoken really. I think we just wanted to make a heavy, classic bluesy-sounding record with good songs - I think that’s important. Not just a load of noodling. You put two guitarists in the studio, and it could be a recipe for a noodling disaster. We are both singers as well - I mean, we sing, I sing, but we wanted to make a record with good songs as well. Do you have any loose plans for the rest of the year? Have you sort of mapped out what the year looks like for Smith/Kotzen? We’ve got two videos out now, ‘Taking My Chances’ and ‘Scars’, and we will probably do another one around the release of the album. I’m already writing, and I’ve got tons and tons of ideas that I’m quite excited about that would be great for Richie and I. I’m sure he has too. With Maiden, we’ve got a tour scheduled for this year, so we’ll see what happens with that. Hopefully, that can go ahead in some shape or form. Yeah, onwards and upwards. It’s amazing how humans can adapt to these things that life throws at you. So, you’ve just got to keep on going. What else can you do? The eponymous debut album from Smith/Kotzen is out now via BMG.

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t i p e h t King of

l photographer Rock Hell’s officia of the Pit, Hard sold ng to Ki ck n ba ow ng ry Our ve ard to getti , is looking forw e bands on the liv st be e th Simon Dunkerley th wi H event es and working his favourite HR out sweaty venu for a selection of ct shot... d ke rfe as pe ag at M th H ing planet. HR ares for captur ep pr he w ho d photographs an tle about you tell me a lit you today, can to lk ta to t ll? ea He Hi Simon, gr with Hard Rock to be involved ing HRH events how you came have been attend y I . up tch ca to od otographer, I reall go s ph s ay es Yeah alw a punter and pr . th ing bo go as 3 ed t inu fes nt since Hammer thing and just co was asked at of the whole Claire Lloyd and enjoyed the form PR t en ev ow kn to t t festival go en I an e rm tim pe During this ents for a more m ire qu re ar was ye eir ll th fu if I wanted to fill history. My first events st as they say is 15 re e nd th ou er, ar ph it’s ra , photog or before covid w, no Awards d ifi, an Sc ts S, en 2016 with 6 ev Prog, Blues, CROW get back to it. etal, Rock, AOR, to M it g wa rin ve n’t co ca y ar a ye p. I reall the Ibiza Road Tri ceremonies and

“Whilst I photograph music across all genres, I really like the high energy of rock, metal and punk”

ming? shot is co For me it’s all at perfect n! a th m n e y h ck e w part of th ou know uld be a lu y o w o I d w at w o o th sh , it is H e to , r th le e p g sw m in n ea atch r exa If I knew th g the artists and w things they do – fo a, in e n w re av o a h n t f und the about k ome artis a walk aro ng a can o festival. S lly go for owd sprayi t things ra prep for a e cr n e e g th ill in roe w omen end up Mike Mon eeffe will ur of the m d or other s Joel O’K are the sp ow re cr e e th th n h e Airbourne’ e Ash ction wit head. Th ra is h te r e Wishbon in , ve th w o r o r o sh tt e e lage n e th n g Je s n en duri capture th Gray/Kim that happ e pose that the Myke n e o lik at rs th e b e b band mem times it might just me nt. e m o photo. So m e Row tion of th from Skid pure emo d that ZP im ce h ti o d n I ce I ti e set I no RH AOR V e light during th arch for H th r, t se e e re at g y w to m h e it During the sid crowd w oved off to d I love the shape ering the les, so I m n was show tt a o ll b e r w e y at tt -pit after 3 ow orked pre w f the photo you are pick up tw it o t k u in o th e I m , it as co d re u ye tu yo and cap metimes d have pla makes. So at the ban r h e w at a w e e id th no hy. you have hotograp songs and g so much on the p in at concentr

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Is it a difficult thing to capture an atmosphere of a show, for example in this shot with Crobot? Yes, it can be. Generally, the photographers are limited to the first 3 songs of the set and that only gives you time to get the shots you need. Having all access allows me to spend more time in the pit looking for angles, light patterns and the artists to see what works. This time I noticed the extreme lights behind vocalist Brandon Yeagley and had time to set the camera for the lights using some test shots and then waited for the right moment. The energy coming from the crowd is also a great part of the show atmosphere to capture and there is nothing better than a crowd surfer, shown here at NRH NWOBHM during the Venom Inc set.

e, there’s , for exampl ot with a band got some sh s a it’ up g, t El se it to Metal of Sean RH How easy is H at n ke shot ta an incredible e! band or are hip with the going on ther ol co s ou ri ve a relations se ha them and u st yo pa if , s st hone run some idea ht ig It varies to be m u yo otographer the band’s ph age. ht work on st ig m ey th n if see ppening. whe as a chance ha w g e El ey r an ei Se th photo with try to catch s, I generally This particular ot. This time ting drummer oo to get the sh sh in e e ag ov st m en th I’m on d spotted an d e ha of the stag once Sean from the side the drum riser rns, I had of ho e ck th ba w e re th th nd d I moved arou head back an the s of hi st w re be e th ted, he d this was th d me and I wai t 3 seconds an he loved it and commente ou ab in s ot , ow !” sh e be th vi time for 5 sh r te d the whole ed it to him af oked on it an bunch. I show g, I’m super st in az am is o “That phot

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H 9, e at HR kk Wyld if any of a Z is s ’ve as well of your photos out? I wonder bout how you ourite a v b a lk fa e a y t m m o One of hat picture co to you later t visual t ck be very to n how did cts come ba w o age? matter d is kn bje in an im showman an so it was just a your su m e h lights t d ed an and the t risers portray reat guitarist ith fron right position w t g e a s s is Zakk ge wa in the . The sta ou were r onstage and hoping y it worked! e bigge g e, me of th d o s of waitin , luckily for m m o od up an ack fr e new, t feedb r were go , I do ge dback from th able and eage rs e h p e e ra h c g fe th a t f to s o ro o o p h e ap em on st p Like mo nerally, I get th s they are more music scene is g music ge yin sa UK lly artists - nd local band ots. Our local ands pla a h s and b do and hopefu , s n g e ia v in ic li s m t u n y co e m e c t e th a d s re time ome ny g to get s normal h so ma ain. und wit the UK, well in nd enjoy it ag ro a t s e a r b t e u v o o ll o a g es to at venu be able e will all soon w

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artists? y summer any favourite ss all genres, and spend m Do you have ro gh energy ac hi ic e us th m e lik ph ogra als, I do really iv st Whilst I phot at HRH Fe ld Up or ce at Folk/W xanne from Fa months away ick of Black e photo of Ro w Th ar . W nk y pu ck & Ri w he of rock, metal ry well I think. oto here is ho that energy ve e and the ph ur a shot I pt Metal sums up ca d to ow t always grea ing over the cr ok lo r ai e Star Riders is th in shows, guitar finishes most times now. y an m ed ur have capt d ptures him an bone Ash, ca e middle ish W th l, in el st w hi Po w Andy t of an in-joke bi a The photo of u yo ng vi at ha ent shot th Crabtree drummer Joe ur of the mom sp ry ve , og Pr H of a song at HR t see. ldn’ normally wou

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king of the pit Talk us th rou up for a fe gh the amount of preparati stival, I gu on that g ess you n itself and oe eed to ha ligh ve a feel fo s into setting Festival pre ting? r the stag p for HRH e ca from outle n start we ts for pho eks in adva tos to use n for set cove ce , fi elding req for their re ra uests views, req with the b ge and specific pho uests from tos like th and and th bands e e crowd. Th classic end festival sh is gives m oot e the starti of set one of band sh list to go along wit ng point o h the main ots f the wo the magaz , crowd shots, peop le shots etc rk of the HRH brief ine, websi te and soci w events. h ic h are al al media to promote an l used for d sell futu re I spend as much tim e as I can re out curren sear t photos to see if there ching the bands an also see h d checkin ow they w g ork the stag is something specifi The venue c they do e as it help does influ and s to get th ence the p lighting h e good sh hotograph elps but at ots y and goo the end o make the d access an . f the day I most of it. d w ork with w Knowing an crew is also hat I have d working a vital par and with the e t to makin this is assi vent techn g the who stin ical le jo requests an g Toby to review an d approve b easier. Alongside d checkin the press g we get th artists so w ph e photo-p e can all w it limitatio otographer ork the pit need. ns from th safely and e get all the photos we

or sy to capture especially ea s be ph to , ra ar og ul rtic t great phot anyone, in pa s seem to ge Do you find ic, you alway en og ot ph particular and the band onroe… ve loved him of Michael M man and I ha nt for example ing he is all fro er g id in ns az Co is an am da in 1985. en ci Ha e Mike Monroe laxed pose Th re e at Hanoi Rocks s him in a mor ow sh o ot his wild ph since seeing this e of him and e and venue ve many mor ha I own styles. over the stag , r er ei ris th ve t the drum ure and all ha pt ca to t urites to leaning agains ea vo one of my fa y bands are gr ntman is also Wagons antics. So man e fro g siv in as az M m am other The chaps fro . ds ar, as are ar ye Dee Snider, an e Aw th H n here at HR for them over gs gi w fe a capture, show ite ine, I shoot qu . are a fave of m Scarecrow the list goes on il Ev s, sie photos Dead Dai lying the right is about supp event so er an ph ra at og ng ot hi yt ival ph to shoot ever r, Sean le ib Being the fest sie ss ea po it e im ak d it’s near raphers to m og ot ph ca r for the job an la n he n stay few of the regu y and Martyn Turner whe I work with a Ke te raphers that Pe og , ot llingham out the press ph of r he ot Larkin, Rob Bi an n use it. With a photo from d see if we ca e an se I s, If em er e. th ph ak ch ra aw proa ess photog need I will ap l the artists, pr effort suits what we sistance of al as ly, it’s a team d th an oo n io sm at so n ru . t up no h the cooper ld tc ou o when we ca tech crew it w d a beer or tw security and an c ai cr od ve a go and we all ha oose these the time to ch - www. ng ki ta r fo Si on’s website uch found at Sim t you do be Thanks so m ha n w ca e to in or otos (m an insight us ng vi ze IV in gi incredible ph ea d Sl an e pit at HRH see you in th headbanger l al sh e w pher as a photogra August!

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DAVID ellefson

ELLEFSON UNCOVERED “It was just such a fun record to make”

Grammy award-winning bass player and Megadeth co-founder David Ellefson made good use of the unplanned downtime brought about by the pandemic through working on a new covers album. The 19-track release features a whole raft of Ellefson’s musical friends and esteemed colleagues who make guest appearances including the likes of Doro Pesch, Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister), Brandon Yeagley (Crobot), and Gus G, to name but a few. The album itself “No Cover” is like a classic rock/metal jukebox featuring Ellefson’s distinctive takes on songs that rocked his world growing up including classics from Motorhead, WASP, Def Leppard, Cheap Trick, Queen, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, Fastway, Fight, Dead Kennedys, and more. HRH Mag caught up with David Ellefson at home in the US to talk about the latest release, being a professional musician during the era of the pandemic and his various creative projects. It’s not very easy being a professional musician right now. You can’t exactly go out on the road and such. How are you finding these strange times as an artist and a performer? This has been one of my best years yet, to be honest with you. I think, first of all, I learned a valuable lesson in the early 2000s. Megadeth disbanded, Dave called me up and said, hey, I’m going to quit Megadeth. And that was something that you knew could always happen at any given moment, yet you feared the day it came. And the day it came, on one hand, I had a lot of stress taken off of me because Megadeth is a real rock and roll band and all that goes with it. At the same time, all of my identity, my income, everything in my life was tethered to that one thing. And I had been trying for a few years to branch out and do some other things, authoring books, producing various things. But it wasn’t until the doors closed on our business that I got into action on moving forward with other things in my life. That moment lit the fire under me to never put all of my eggs back in one basket ever again. And it’s not even fair to your band to do that because you start to get resentments toward your band. Like how come you’re not available? How come you’re not here? It’s

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sort of putting an unrealistic expectation on other people. And especially as we get older, health issues happen. We went through it last year with Dave Mustaine with his throat cancer treatments. So, I’ve got to be honest with you I feel like my life is pretty balanced between Megadeth, which is great but also writing books, producing, releasing my solo material, and my coffee company. All these other things that I have that provide financially, but a lot of them are start-up companies so there is a lot of work that goes into them. Staying occupied and busy and being productive with other things looking forward really kept me out of the COVID/Quarantine depression that I hear a lot of people going through. I quite honestly have not had that. I’ve just been writing songs, moving forward. I’ve got a great partner in Thom Hazaert with all of our Ellefson industries. And of course, working on basically two Ellefson solo records, the original music album and then of course this ‘No Cover’ record, which just came up out of nowhere back in June. So, my summer was very busy, superproductive, a lot of joy, a lot of happiness because of the songs and music we’re creating and just keeping a horse in the race at all times. What was the thinking behind the covers album? I know you said it sort of came together over the summer. It wasn’t originally planned to be an album, right. It was just you guys kind of getting together? We originally had put out the intention that in October we would be releasing the Ellefson solo record. And by June we just went, look, the world’s shut down well into 2021. The tour dates that we had to go to Australia and Japan had been rescheduled to next year. So, we just thought, look, there’s no reason to put an album out until we can tour. And since we do have some tour dates, as well as a European tour that has been moved, but it’s pencilled in for 2021, we thought, let’s just buy ourselves a little time and hey, let’s put out some covers. We didn’t know if that was a couple of digital songs or an EP or what it would be. And the funny thing is we got so excited about it and started talking about all these covers that we wanted to do that we had an album worth of songs within two phone conversations. And by the end of the week, we had 18 songs

DAVID ellefson really 19, because Thom had called Chip Z’nuff and asked him to participate. And his song kind of came in a little at the eleventh hour, but we put it on the record anyway. It’s a song called “Downed” by Cheap Trick. Here in America, we tucked it as a bonus track. I’ve gotta be honest with you, I sat right here at this very desk you’re looking at, I’ve got my little recording setup behind the laptop here. And I mean, this is where I spent the next month, just recording bass and listening to the mixes. It was just such a fun record to make. Looking at the tracklist I thought it was quite interesting because there are some very major artists on there. You’ve got

that was the very first AC/DC song that I heard. And I love a ton of AC/DC songs, both with Bon and with Brian Johnson. But I went for the songs that just rocked my world and so “Riff Raff” is one of them. There are two Queen songs that are near and dear to me. One is the very first one I heard, which is “Death on Two Legs”. For Christmas, Mom and Dad bought me ‘A Night at The Opera’ - they probably thought it was a musical. And quite honestly, when I first heard it, I didn’t know what the hell it was because I’d been listening to Kiss records. I’m like, what is this? This is weird. But I liked the heavier stuff. I’ve always liked the heavier music of many artists. So, we went for probably the heavier, more ripping, slamming tracks. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY IMAGERY: MELODY MYERS

Queen and AC/DC and stuff like that. But what I did notice is that the songs that you chose weren’t necessarily the smash hits of the band, they were maybe slightly deeper cuts. Was that intentional? Well, first of all, I’m a rocker, and I want to do the songs that rocked my world growing up. And it’s funny because “Riff Raff” was the very first song on ‘If You Want Blood’ - the live album with Bon Scott. And

I let Thom pick a few and he picked “Freewheel Burning” and he’s more of an Eighties Judas Priest guy, whereas I’m probably more of a Seventies Judas Priest guy. He chose “Beth” and funnily enough, he chose the Eric Carr version of Beth. And again, a very unsuspecting cover. I would have never chosen “Beth” quite honestly. But when he told me, I was like, dude, that is so perfect. And what I love about it is, Thom he’s got a lot of, I call it kerosene and diesel in his voice. Thom’s 10 years younger than me. So, the music that he grew up with and the stuff he started working in the music business were things like Korn and Limp Bizkit. There was a different music business that he grew up in. So, what I grew up in as a musician was very clean, very precise and I play like that and my ears hear music like that. I wanna hear things clean and proper. Thom’s is a much bigger canon if you will. And one of the things I’ve always talked to Thom about is - he keeps telling me, he goes, look, man, music is different than what you grew up with even in Megadeth

I think this record, for me personally, one of the things I love about it is all the vocal collaborations. And I think Thom singing with all these different musicians I think it’s kind of elevated Thom’s vocal prowess if you will. I hear it already in the solo stuff that we’re doing and even just the tour that we just did. I love to hear Thom singing more and I knew he always had it in him. He just never really had the outlet for it. So, I love that this cover record, I think in a lot of ways has again really elevated his vocal abilities. So, I’m excited seeing what that’s now developing, even as we’re writing now this, I guess it would be the third Ellefson solo record. ‘No Cover’ by Ellefson is out now via earMUSIC and Ellefson’s revived Combat Records.

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Surely a band that needs no introduction - for a lot of people their first experience of hearing Cannibal Corpse for the first time was when they were onstage during the Jim Carrey flick Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but throughout their 32 year career, they have faced controversy at every corner, mainly from censors throughout the world banning not just their records but even the band themselves from performing songs from those albums. Yet despite this, or maybe because of this, they have gone on to become the best selling death metal band in the world. Like they say, there ain’t no such thing as bad publicity... Fast forward to 2021, and the Buffalo quintet are to set unleash their 15th opus, the magnificent Violence Unimagined, featuring new guitarist Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) after the departure of Pat O’Brien due to his ongoing personal issues. Founding bassist Alex Webster talks to HRH’s Neil Not. First up, congratulations on Violence Unimagined. It can’t be easy after over 30 years and 15 albums to write death metal that is as interesting for the listener as it is for you guys to actually play. Presumably, the bulk of the record was written before Covid, but did you approach any of the writing differently on this record? Alex Webster (AW): That’s correct, the writing of the music was finished by

around March 2020, so pre-pandemic for the most part, but the lyrics were written mainly in April/May 2020, so after the pandemic had begun. I think the lyrics to Erik’s song “Condemnation Contagion”, were inspired by the pandemic although it’s not specifically about Covid. As far as keeping the music interesting goes, we each try to be as creative as we can when we’re writing our songs, and we really focus on having a lot of variety between the songs. You’ll hear various tempos, rhythmic ideas, scales, etc. throughout Violence Unimagined, and hopefully, each song has its own distinct character. We want to keep the listener engaged from start to finish with our albums, and we think variety is key to that. Having worked with producer Erik Rutan on Red Before Black, how easy was it to work with him again on the new record? AW: It was quite easy since by this point we have a lot of experience working together. The main difference of course is that he’s now in the band as well, but that didn’t affect his ability to produce the record, and in fact it may have enhanced it. He has a really good understanding of our music both as a producer and as a musician.

CANNIBAL CORPSE “We want to keep the listener engaged from start to finish”

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Although having Eric on board seems a no-brainer, there must also be a myriad of logistical problems concerning his work with Hate Eternal. Can we expect tours with Hate Eternal and Cannibal Corpse and how long term do you see this relationship? AW: Erik is in Cannibal Corpse as a full member and we look forward to making many albums with him. He’ll continue on with Hate Eternal as well- he’s pretty good at multi-tasking so he’ll find time for both I’m sure! I doubt we’d do a Cannibal/H.E. tour though, that would be a lot of work for Erik- he could handle it, but I think it would be a lot more enjoyable to play in one band a night! Musically this new album spans a whole spectrum of your repertoire with slower, heavier parts interspersed with good old fashioned blast beats, but there’s an old school element in there too. How hard is it to maintain that Corpse trademark while still trying out new things? AW: It’s not so hard I guess. I think we have some musical boundaries that we’re all in agreement about, and we just try to be as creative as we can within those boundaries. For example, we all know that our riffs shouldn’t sound happy or uplifting ha-ha. It needs to be dark, aggressive music at all times, but beyond that, there’s plenty of room to experiment. We don’t feel constrained. Lyrics for Cannibal Corpse have always been a controversial area as regards censorship groups. After all this time has the lyrical content been toned down any or are there any new songs that lyrically surpass any of your previous works? AW: I think the lyrics on this album have a similar mixture of different types of horror as our other recent albums have had. We have some songs that are extremely graphically violent, and others that are more psychological. I’d say the most offensive lyrics in our catalogue are probably on “Tomb of the Mutilated” or “Butchered at Birth”, but there’s some very extreme gore and violence on this album, as there has been on all of our releases. Slower songs like Follow The Blood and Surround, Kill, Devour are sure to reduce moshpits to waste the world over. What new tracks are you most looking forward to playing live when this pandemic is over? AW: We haven’t decided yet, but I’d love to play both of the ones you mentioned, plus Condemnation Contagion, Necrogenic Resurrection, and Inhumane Harvest…but really, I’d like to play any of the songs on Violence Unimagined. We can’t wait to get out there and play this material for everyone. Speaking from a purely band viewpoint, how has the timing of the pandemic affected Cannibal Corpse? 2020 would’ve been the 30th anniversary of Eaten Back To Life, how frustrating was it to not mark the occasion properly? AW: We really didn’t have any anniversary plans for “Eaten”, and actually we had no touring planned for 2020 except for a possible tour in November, which of course didn’t happen. So for us, 2020 wasn’t quite as different as it was for other bands who had a full schedule of touring they were forced to cancel. You must be itching to get out and tour this record, but how frustrating is it that you’re going to have to sit on it a little while longer before you take it on the road properly? AW: Like thousands of other bands, we are looking forward to being able to get back out there and tour. It’s definitely strange for us to be releasing an album without an accompanying tour. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to get back to it sooner than later, maybe by 2022. We’ll see. Cannibal Corpse have never been shy of being part of huge, multi-band bills. How much fun are these tours to be part of and do you have any future plans in this sense? AW: It’s great to be a part of a multi-band bill like the Mayhem festival tour in North America or some of the big fests in Europe and other parts of the world. It’s a great way to introduce your music to new listeners, and of course, it’s cool to see the other bands perform and hang out with them. We’ve toured with so many bands over the years that sometimes the festivals feel like a big reunion. So we definitely look forward to doing more tours like that, but right now we have no plans. Finally, as a bit of fun, Cannibal Corpse have dabbled in the odd cover version in the past. If each member of CWWC were to choose their favourite artists to cover for Mortuary Slab Classics (!), what 5 bands could we expect to hear?


AW: Hmmm, well I can only answer for myself with certainty, and I’ll say I think it would be cool to cover a Slayer song. Really we’d all probably choose early thrash/death bands (as we’ve already done: Razor, Kreator, Sacrifice, Possessed, Metallica, The Accused…) so it would be more stuff like that I think.


ROCKFIT “We’re the Addams family of fitness classes!”

As a self confessed rock music addict and gym fan, when lockdown first happened back in March 2020 and hearing that there would be no gym, no live music and no rocking out for the foreseeable future, I was desperate to find something to fulfil my needs! So imagine my delight when, glimmering on the horizon, was a ruby haired ball of energy, bad ass, dance, health and fitness teacher - the doctor that could cure my disease!! Enter Ms Hannah Le Rouge, founder, and CEO of RockFit UK.

to do for years and when the pandemic hit all my live classes were immediately stopped. My partner is a talented graphic designer and his good friend Jonathan works for Warracks Web Design - we all had extra time because of furlough and being unable to work face to face so we banded together and launched Rockfit online in May.

Where did your love of dance come from? It’s been there for as long as I can remember even as a tiny kid. My mum dressed me in a pink tutu and tried to take me to a ballet class as a small child and I screamed the place

down (she’s never let me forget it!) but it runs in the family my dad’s aunt was a famous 1920’s starlet - Beryl Davis - she sang with Sinatra and loved dancing. Dance is in the blood in my family! Hey Hannah! Welcome to the HRH Family! I have been working out/rocking out with you, since the first class you aired on YouTube over a year ago. But, I know RockFit has been around so much longer. Tell me where it all began? It feels like yesterday but Rockfit began here in Plymouth in late 2015 with classes officially launching in January 2016. Our first official class had about 35 people from the very first session and it’s just grown so rapidly - I now have a team of 15 instructors/support instructor here in Plymouth with classes across the city! What made you decide to take RockFit online? It was the perfect storm really. It’s something people have been asking me

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Tell the HRH Mag readers about your love of rock and metal, where did this begin and who do you love to rock out too? I was brought up on a strict diet of 1960’s Rock n roll (thanks to my parents) but I was always captivated by the rock bands on Top of the Pops as a kid. My older sister was a punk and introduced me to Iron Maiden! Like most rock and metal fans I’ve got eclectic tastes ranging from classic rock like Queen, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden to hair metal (I’m a big Motley Crue fan and love the whole hair metal genre) but nu-metal was my era growing up - Korn, Rammstein, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Skindred, Slipknot...I can’t get enough of it. Metallica, Slayer, Pantera...epic. At the moment I’m really into some of the powerhouse female led bands - In This Moment, Beyond the Black, The Birthday Massacre. The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm as well as The HU, Alien Weaponry, Five Finger Death

rockFit Punch, Bring Me The Horizon, Motionless in White and 3TEETH. There are so many! You do an annual RockFit at Download, you must have a few tales to tell?! Ha!! Some I can tell you and some I can’t! We were there in 2019 when it rained so hard at the start we were knee deep in mud. we were set to do RockFit in the morning and the stage had sunk on one side and because they’d put us in the Dogtooth stage (which was slanted!) all the mud slid in! We managed 2 out of the 3 days and had over 100 people on the first day. The poor woman who was signing for a deaf participant had to sign all my choice phrases and swearing! She was a great sport though. How about in class, what are your funniest stories - mentioning no names to protect the innocent or embarrassed?! There are so many! Especially if you get several instructors co-teaching, which is a riot - mutually bad influences all of them! i’ve split my leggings and had a top just fall off mid-song! I’m pretty shameless, I just told my class it’s all part of the service and I won’t charge them extra for the strip show! We’ve had a random dog run through followed by a very embarassed owner and a bunch of the local youths who I challenged to join in for interrupting my class..and who stayed for the remainder! We were filmed for Lucozade sport in 2019 by a BAFTA nominated filmmaker who said he’d never seen anything like this - about 80 people all dancing to iron Maiden....he loved it and drove off throwing us the horns! Mission accomplished! How does it feel for you, teaching a class without a class? Are you excited to be able to get back to a studio full of Rockfitties? It was SO bizarre at first. In a class full of people you get so much energy back from them and when it’s just a camera there you really have to dig deep to give that same energy. BUT I’m still the same – what comes out of my mouth is often a surprise and sometimes sounds decidedly dodgy. Online we can edit out the swearing or I can re-do a track if I’m not happy - my live classes get the full unabridged version complete with technical difficulties and innuendo. I’m looking forward to that social connection of us all being in “Nu-metal was same room my era growing up” the again but online has been an absolute Hannah Le Rouge game changer and

will definitely continue too - they are all amazing! I’m hoping we can hold a massive Rockfit convention later on this year so I can meet a load of the Rockfit Online participants in real life. You have a huge following on Social Media and the group is a place of support for many people on their fitness journey. Can you describe the group vibe, your challenges, the stretch and chill sessions - I know the positive and supportive atmosphere in the group is important to you, so please tell us why - we are all still freaks and geeks and wierdos and I think this always resonates with the rock family? Our online group is just the most insanely supportive, motivational and badass collection of rock loving people ever - instructors, newbies and seasoned RockFit veterans! The vibe of the group reflects the ethos of Rockfit - total acceptance, zero judgement, being 100% yourself and accepted no matter who you are - it’s genuinely one of the most humbling things I’ve ever experienced and one of the best things to come out of lockdown. For me the Rockfit Facebook group is a reflection of all the positive aspects of the rock community, shared love for the music, a real sense of tribal belonging and a willingness to connect and help others. The group is my anchor really, no matter how successful RockFit gets it’s the people that matter. Through lockdown I have been running free stretch sessions, monthly challenges and Saturday night quizzes to keep people occupied. I like giving back and it’s not often you can connect with the CEO of a fitness company. I’ve never been one to sit behind a desk and not interact, I’m all about connecting with people. Yes we’re about fitness but it’s so much more than that. It’s giving people an outlet that’s based on physical fitness but encompasses the social/emotional/mental aspects. That’s where the group excels. Mutual support, laughter, discussion, interaction and somewhere to get advice and encouragement on those days when you’ve lost your drive. Sometimes just a kind, encouraging word can work wonders for people and providing that positive atmosphere is really important to me. This is why you’ll see things like the Rockfit Q&A - the most ridiculous things I get asked as head of a rock and metal fitness company and the responses which are often funny/sarcastic/trolling the trolls. I like to make people smile and most importantly to encourage them to be totally themselves. Let your freak flag fly! There’s no shame or judgement! We’re like the antidote to those fitness classes where you walk in and everyone is already super fit in body hugging lycra and you feel really uncomfortable. We’re basically the Addams family of fitness classes - a collection of the most awesome freaks, geeks and weirdos who are happy to have found our tribe and feel totally comfortable belting out our favourite songs dressed in our band merch. RockFit is now national, have you got plans for global domination? Plans are already afoot! The pandemic forced me to put them on hold but we’ve got some major moving to do once we’re allowed out to play again. I’d love to take Rockfit to Germany – I think they’d love it - also I’d love an excuse to go to Oktoberfest! I’ve got America banging on the door too now – I was supposed to go to New York last year to lauch RockFit US but it’s going to have to wait a little while longer. So if you want to get Rockfit, healthy, strong, have fun and, most importantly, do it to some of your favourite rock and metal tracks, everything from Rammstein to Queen, Motley Crue to Korn, FFDP to Foghat, you can find Hannah and her posse of fitness instructors at where you can find online and in-class sessions plus links to their social media. Come and join the Rockfitties, you never know when that HRH Flash mob is going to happen!


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“We wanted to write an arena rock anthem...

Take a left onto...

WILD STREET New Yorkers Wildstreet were due to play Hard Rock Hell Spring Break last month, of course sadly that wasn’t to be, but we will see them next year with the event rescheduled to March 2022. While we wait, we decided to get in touch with frontman Eric Jayk and get the latest news from the band. Hi Eric, thank you for chatting to HRH Mag - we were looking forward to seeing you over here in the UK, are there any plans to reschedule a visit? We have been planning a UK visit for many years, and I’m happy to say we’re coming over next year for HRH Spring Break! It’s hard to believe you have existed since 2006, did you think Wildstreet would still be around 15 years later? From the early days, we knew we were doing something awesome and special. Wildstreet’s music is universal and timeless.

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You took a break for over 2 years and came back in 2016 refreshed with a new lineup - you must be proud at how well the comeback has been received? It’s amazing. The band is better than ever, our fanbase is larger and ever-growing. We’re lucky to have a team of great people working with us to get our music out to fans: Golden Robot Records, Blind Anxiety Entertainment and The No Name Agency. You have played with some awesome names, Twisted Sister, Michael Monroe and LA Guns to name just three, is there any band, past or present, that you would still love to share a stage with? There are so many great bands, and I want Wildstreet to share the stage with all of them! Guns N’ Roses or Aerosmith would be killer!


...I think we achieved our goal!”

Your latest single ‘Set It Off‘ came out recently, what’s the story behind it? Jimmie and I wrote ‘Set It Off’ with a producer/songwriter friend Alvin Anthony. We wanted to write an arena rock anthem, I think we achieved our goal! The song is massive and has been a crowd favourite at our shows since we started playing it live! ‘Wildstreet III’ drops on June 25th and we can’t wait to hear it. Can you tell us a bit more about how the album was put together? I’m so excited for everyone to hear this album. Thanks so much again to Golden Robot Records for helping us to get this record to the fans. The album was produced by Kyle Paas, mixed by Jon Kaplan and mastered by Howie Weinberg. It was recorded in NYC in 2018/2019. We set out to record a real rock record. We chose the songs that best highlighted our strengths and pushed the boundaries of what people’s perceptions of the band were. I think rock fans will love it! You have been described as similar to ‘80s glam rock in style, is that how you see yourselves? I like some ‘80s music, but Wildstreet doesn’t try to be an ‘80s

band, or try to be ‘glam rock.’ We are uniquely Wildstreet, we just rock! I love New York, what’s the best thing about living in such an amazing city? NYC rocks! Enough said! Do you have any more plans after the headline US tour? Yes absolutely, we have another headlining US tour planned in the southeast in June. The dates will be announced later this month. We release our album ‘III’ on June 25th and will be co-headlining the Swiss Rock Cruise in Switzerland with Thundermother. In July we begin a 5-week tour in the US, which will also include our set at RockFest on Friday July 16th in Cadott, Wisconsin. Do you have any messages for the WIldstreet fans and HRH readers? HRH readers, UK fans - next year, Wildstreet is coming so get ready to rock! WORDS: DIANE DAVIES PHOTO: CHRISTINE SAMAROO (THE CYCLORAMA)

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Verity white One thing is for sure, Verity White has made the most out of these difficult times. With the benefit of having a professional recording studio at home, the UK based artist, alongside her partner in crime Alex White, have turned out two EPs during the lockdown period. And if that isn’t enough, the pair have been entertaining the masses online with their regular Monday night live streams on Facebook. HRH Mag caught up with Verity at the start of the year to get the lowdown on her second EP ‘Ungrounded’ (out now via WDFD Records), the prospects of an album release, and her outlook for 2021. Today marks the release of your ‘Ungrounded’ EP. How are you feeling? I’m feeling good. What’s been great this time around is that we managed to get the EP out to lots of reviewers before the release date. And I know that feels like a real rookie thing, but we sometimes get overly obsessed with mixing, and so things run over. But we set some solid deadlines this time, and we met them, WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY which is amazing. We got the EP out to a load of people, and I think because we’ve PHOTO: ADAM KENNEDY only very recently just released another EP, I think my name was already kind of somewhere in the back of people’s heads. And so, with the second EP, I think more people were interested like oh, hang on a minute, I know that name, so they picked it up. We’ve had some amazing reviews. I think because of that, there has been a nice buzz today online. Loads of people have been wearing our T-shirts for Band Shirt Friday and sharing their thoughts about the EP and saying nice things. It’s been awesome! ‘Ungrounded’ is the second EP that you have written and recorded during the lockdown period. Were those songs that you’ve written during that time, or did you have them stockpiled beforehand? How did they come about? So, the majority of the songs were written in lockdown. I think, if you look at the song “Strange Times”, which is the lead single from the newest EP – it’s about the lockdown and these weird times that we’re living. It’s about the lockdown, but it’s about politics and things like that. But it’s also got kind of a message of hope through it. I like to include a message of hope in my music. Although a lot of it is autobiographical and about bad situations that I’ve been in - through the lyrics; I like to show a glimmer of hope; because I feel like there is always hope. It doesn’t matter how dark things are - there is always something that can make you smile. And that might be your cat giving you a cuddle or something. But there is always something there that can make you smile. So yeah, they’re generally written through the lockdown. In terms of the songwriting process, how does that work between yourself and Alex? Interestingly, we’ve done these two EPs differently. With the first one ‘After The Storm’. I wrote the structures, the chord sequences and all of the lyrics. We don’t usually work together; we tend to do stuff separately. And he then orchestrated them from that. And then we did all the final recordings. Whereas with the second EP, Alex wrote the chord structures and sequences and sent those to me. I then did all the lyrics and the vocal arrangements and all the different areas of the harmonies. And we then sat down, recorded them and talked about all the incidentals together. But there is one track that we wrote together in more or less in the same room, at the same time, which is actually “Strange Times”. So, we sat down, and we were like, let’s do one more. Because we had written a few, there was three that we were happy with, but we couldn’t find that fourth song. So, we were like, you know what, let’s try sitting down in a room writing together, at the same time, which we have never done before. I know that sounds weird, but we’ve never done it before. And it

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VERITY WHITE Music During Strange Times

seemed to work ok. So yeah, that is the one that we’ve probably written in a more normal way. Having done two EPs over lockdown, have you got ideas about maybe doing an album at all? I think it’s on the agenda. I feel like the lockdown EPs was stuff that we wanted to do, not only for ourselves to keep us from going insane but also for the fans to have things to look forward to. I don’t think many musicians in the grassroots scene are lucky enough to have a studio at home that’s kind of fully professionally kitted out. So, we’re in a good situation where we can write music and get music out there to people and hopefully make their lives through lockdown feel a bit better. I think we do want to work on an album next. Alex said to me before the EP release that we need to start working on the album now. But like, oh my god, just let me sit down and have a few Gin and Tonics please, my brain can’t cope. But yeah, it is twinkling away. And what that looks like we don’t quite know, because obviously, we don’t know what will happen in the COVID world. But we’re hoping to get our band more involved this time around too. Do you have any loose plans for 2021? Or is it still very much a wait and see kind of thing? So, we have quite a few gigs booked in 2021, one of them being HRH Spring Break [Editor’s Note: Now rescheduled for March 2022], which we’re very much looking forward to - fingers crossed. We are going to work on a new album, we are going to be working on music, and we’re still going to be doing our live streams. I will book gigs and a tour when I feel that it’s safe enough to do so. And when I feel like I’m not going to have to have the expense of then having to cancel it and rebook it all. It’s dire out there for grassroots music. It’s not just the musicians who are suffering; it’s all of the people that work in the industry; it’s the venues. I don’t want to get into a situation where we owe venues all of this money, and then we have to cancel it. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m cautious. If things go in the right direction through January, February, and March and vaccines hopefully start rolling out, I can see some semblance of normality returning throughout the year. Then I feel that we’ll probably be booking a tour - that is the plan.






s ’ i k Vi

FrEsh HEll Sweet Teaze Flare Voyant Chez Kane Sam Millar empyre

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Viki’s Fresh Hell


WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY Who are you? We’re Sweet Teaze - the name probably gives it away - we were originally formed in 1989. A chaotic bunch that were nieve enough to think it was cool to receive a demo review in a magazine that stated “the cool contingent of Lazers” which was a small seedy Lincoln nightclub that Andy Copping DJ’d at back in our day. We were all about the rock n roll lifestyle, trashy, loose (in more ways than playing) and pretty much self destructed in a couple of years. Roll Call? The band was formed by Raz White who went under the moniker of Raz L. Bitch back in those days. Our original line up also included, Jay Daniels, D.D. Foxx (aka Dean Foxx), Stevi Fitz & Skell Monroe (aka Gaz Hunt). Recently reforming for a one off show at Rockmantic Weekender the band gained the help of JJ Watt on Bass & Danny Krash on Drums. Since that show it was decided that this line up would continue. Hailing from? We originally hailed from Lincoln but nowadays we’re sprawled far and wide across the UK. Still see ourselves as a Lincoln band though. That’s where we meet up to rehearse. Journey so far? The journey was, as mentioned earlier, chaotic! We did about a dozen or so gigs. Our debut gig was in Raz’s hometown of Dumfries to about 200 bikers. It was a five hour drive so we were pretty drunk when we arrived, but not as drunk as Jay Daniels who

couldn’t even stand. We introduced ourselves to the venue owner with “Hi we’re Sweet Teaze, can you get us lots of strong black coffee”. With an image akin to Poison we managed to turn a hostile audience into a friendly one. Our second gig was at Caythorpe college, nr Lincoln & it didn’t get any better as we blew someone up with our pyros. The same pyro was like a concussion bomb and Raz couldn’t hear anything for the next ten minutes. Influences/sound? Our sound was trashy glam punk but that was mainly lack of musicianship. Everything from Hanoi Rocks to Iron Maiden, Motley Crue to the Sex Pistols influenced us. Raz was the main songwriter back at the start & he’s a pure punk kid at heart. But now the songwriting is coming from Fitzi and Dean a lot more often. Our sound, thankfully, is now a lot more mature and together. We’re enjoying the writing process a lot more this time around. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? Proudest moment was when we played at our finest supporting Wraith from Nottingham. Our backline amps went out but we kept going with just Drums and vocals. After 5 mins of engineers running about we cut back in with the full band at exactly the same place. That was our last gig with Dean & Gaz. And the band never really got back on its feet again. What does the future hold for Sweet Teaze? Fun! We are all busy people with other projects & bands but we enjoy this & will be recording an album that will include some old tracks and about 6 or 7 new tracks. We are all good friends. We have a blast, and with shows like Call of the Wild Festival, Rockmantic Weekender & HRH Spring Break to look forward to, life is peachy!

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Viki’s Fresh Hell

FLARe voyant

WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTOS: SAM HUDDLESTONE Who are you? Flare Voyant Roll Call? Thomas Baignères on vocals, Rod Bourganos on electric guitar, Grisha Grigory Grebennikov on bass guitar & Anthony Paine on drums Hailing from? London-based, even though only Anthony was born here. Thomas lives in Paris, Grisha is Russian and raised in the North of England, and Rod is Brazilian with Greek & Italian roots. Journey so far? The concept of the band was developed back in 2014 and long-distance demos were produced at that time but we’ve been around as an actual band since late 2016 when we recorded our debut EP with legendary producer Chris Kimsey! Our first gig took place in Shoreditch during the spring of 2017 and we’ve been nurturing the ‘70s rock scene in London ever since, mainly playing heritage venues such as The Troubadour, The 100 Club, and The Scotch Of St James. As you might have noticed, we’re avid enthusiasts of the past. Three EP’s and a double-A single have been independently released so far and we hope to craft an album soon.

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Influences/sound? The obsessive love for all things late 1960s and early 1970s is pretty much what brought us together even though our individual tastes might differ within diverse spectrums of that era. Anthony and Rod are Led Zeppelin maniacs and really into progressive rock, funk, and ‘70s jazz fusion, while Thomas is more passionate about the blues and Grisha likes a cheekier rock. As a band, we manifest influences such as The Rolling Stones, Zepp, The Faces, Humble Pie, always with a hint of funk and fusion. Lyrically, we normally try to incorporate poetry, hermeticism, and lust. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? Definitely when Jimmy Page came to see us play at The Troubadour in 2019! He was remarkably touched by our performance and even gave us an authorised quote after spending a pleasant hour backstage discussing the gig. What does the future hold for Flare Voyant? You’ll have to ask a clairvoyant, not Flare Voyant! Later in the year, we’ll be releasing a collector’s edition 7-inch featuring two tracks off Elusive Times, in partnership with an Italian label. It would be lovely to be able to play live until the end of the year and retrieve the momentum that we were building in 2019 before the whole world fell apart. Hopefully, we’ll be able to expand our audience and career prospects within the music biz as well, perhaps playing festivals and consolidating a more solid infrastructure around us.

Viki’s Fresh Hell

Who are you? I am Chez Kane from Welsh Rock Band, Kane’d. I have recently been signed to Frontiers Music and am working with the lovely Danny Rexon, frontman of Crazy Lixx, to launch my solo career with my debut album coming out March 12th.

Chez kane

Roll Call? I’ll start with Kane’d. We are made up of 7 members. Fronted by myself and my 2 sisters, Steph Kane & Stacey Kane. We then have 4 amazing musicians behind us, Harry Scott Elliott on Lead Guitar, Jack Davies on Rhythm Guitar, Josh Rawcliffe on Bass Guitar and then George Elliott on Drums. With my newly launched solo career, I have again the amazing Harry Scott Elliott of Kane’d to join me on the road. I then recently held auditions because I wanted to scout new talent that had the same passion and feel that I have for my music and the auditions showed just that. I am so excited to have James Ready on guitar also, Nico Martin on bass & Jay Haines on drums! These guys are going to bring something really special to the upcoming Chez Kane shows! Hailing from? I am from South Wales and I come from a family of singers. My grandparents have been in bands, my dad is a singer, my aunty is a singer… me and my sisters then went on to follow in their footsteps. There was no escaping it really! Haha! I started singing at a very young age, 5 to be exact. I fell in love with wanting to be a rock chick at the age of 13 when I first heard Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ blasting on the radio. Journey so far? My whole life has been based around music, it’s my passion and I work hard at it every single day. It all started with me and my sisters singing together and then coming up with this crazy idea of putting a band behind us as we thought it would be a unique and cool idea… Kane’d was born! We’ve gone on to create 3 albums. We’ve toured all over Europe and hit a lot of ups and downs along the way but boy do we have some great memories and stories to tell… A few years back, I decided to start uploading some covers to YouTube of songs I adore, I didn’t think much of it at the time and it was just something I wanted to do for the fun of singing, this led on to Danny Rexon of Crazy Lixx finding one of my videos and

offering me this project that I knew was instantly perfect for me. I then went on to demo some tracks and got offered the project and was signed to Frontiers Music. So now begins the new journey as Chez Kane... This does not mean that Kane’d have ended, we are still very much a band and hope to create more albums in the future.

Influences/sound? I am influenced by many genres of Rock! It all started at 13yrs old with Def Leppard being my biggest influence, to then loving Vixen, Pat Benatar, Robin Beck, H.E.A.T, WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY Alter Bridge, so many!!! The sound of my debut album stems back to the greats of the late ‘80s, early ‘90s - bringing back that classic, sassy, ‘80s infectious sound that I feel is really missing today! I feel the world is in such a bad place at the moment and we need more music like this to keep our spirits up! So… I’m taking on the task of bringing it back! Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? One of my favourite gigs to date is hitting the HRH AOR stage for the first time with Kane’d, we’d been trying to get on the HRH gigs for a while and when we finally got offered the slot, you could imagine, we were all so hyped for the gig! I also love playing a venue in France called Le Pacific Rock, we always have such a warm welcome there and they are a great audience to play for! I have 2 very proud moments. One being when Kane’d released the second album ‘Rise’… basically, we got to a point where we didn’t know where we were headed, whether the band was going to work out, etc. We said to ourselves... “let’s create one more album and just enjoy it for the love of creating music.” This album kept us going as a band and we are so proud to have created it all ourselves. We went on to create a third album ‘Show Me Your Skeleton’! Another proud moment has to be hearing my finished solo album for the first time - that was special and I got incredibly emotional! What does the future hold for you Chez? Who knows what’s around the corner? I’m hoping for more albums & when this pandemic has settled down, I want to get out on the road to promote my music!As long as I’m able to continue making music and sing… my future will be bright. So… music, music and more music. Haha!

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Viki’s Fresh Hell

Sam millar


Who are you? I’m Sam! I’m predominantly a guitarist, songwriter and producer but I try my best to sing as well. Roll call? As far as the record goes it’s just been me playing guitar/bass and singing and the rest has been programmed. It’s amazing what you can do with technology, it means I don’t even have to talk to anyone anymore! But...I’ve put together a great live band, The Sass Bandits, to get out and play the material live. Providing no one ‘goes missing’ during rehearsals. this is: James Thorley on keys, Matt Jones on guitar, Benji Faith on bass Alex Lacey on the drums. Hailing from? WIGAN! Journey so far? I started playing the guitar around the age of 8 and started writing songs a few years later. I have been in bands most of my life but after my last band (Bigfoot) decided to call it a day I decided to put out a solo release. It just seemed like the best step for me to just take knowing that from that moment on I was no longer going to be writing material with that band in mind. I loved that band but for 6 years that was my main focus so it was definitely nice to step away from that and write without any real expectations of what the music had to be or sound like. My original intent was for that to be a one off release and then find my feet with another group but after a few requests to play the material live I thought it’d be rude not to. Unfortunately after the Covid situation those never actually happened and the world had to deal with a 2nd release of fruity cheese rock from me recorded

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during lockdown. And here we are, I have gigs planned and a live band ready to go as soon as we get the word! Influences/sound? I’m such a music nerd and enjoy a massive variety of stuff across the board but I grew up listening to a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s rock and I always leaned more towards the fruitier melody driven variety like Queen, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Toto, The Sweet…. But I also the love a lot of pop music from the likes of ABBA all the way to more modern stuff. I guess you could say guilty pleasures but I don’t feel remotely guilty. I’ve always been a sucker for catchy choruses and I think that has always come across in my songwriting but a lot more so in my recent stuff. As with most of the music I write the vocal is the main element and I’ll usually write with the person who will be singing the songs voice in mind and ultimately I don’t have what you would call the most ‘manly’ voice so that was a big factor on the musical direction of that material. Gotta work with what I gots! Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? There’s a few worth mentioning with Bigfoot such as releasing our debut album and playing a lot of great gigs and festivals across the UK and Europe. But putting out my own release and having people actually dig it is really flattering for me, I know it’s not on the same scale as what I’ve done in the past and it’s a lot different but I’ve put it out there and I’m just really grateful and proud that people are enjoying it. A guy actually wet himself right in front of me during a guitar solo at a gig once and I choose to believe that my playing did that. So I’m pretty proud of that too in that case. What does the future hold for Sam Millar and the Sass Bandits? Hopefully plenty gigs including the ones I’m rescheduling from 2020. I’ve also been writing loads of new material so at some point I hope I’ll be putting an album out but it would be great to tour the stuff I already have out there first, which will hopefully be able to happen very soon!

Viki’s Fresh Hell

Who are you? EMPYRE Roll Call? Henrik Steenholdt - Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar Did Coles - Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals Grant Hockley - Bass Guitar Elliot Bale - Drums


Hailing from? Home-grown Northamptonshire band. In fact homegrown is one of our tracks from our debut album ‘Self Aware’ and no it’s not about weed, but does give a good introduction to our sound ranging from acoustic to hard rock and is only 7 minutes long. Journey so far? Did: Our origins begin with myself (Did) and Henrik meeting shortly after I’d graduated from music college. We formed an acoustic rock covers trio that developed into a massively popular Northants rock electric covers band. Any hardcore Empyre fans who are lyrically observant and know us well, may spot a tiny reference to our covers band in the lyrics to our song “Too Close”. When I first met Henrik, fresh out of music college, his voice sounded so powerful and unique and I strongly felt that this was a voice for original material. The popularity of our covers band meant that initially songwriting took a backseat in our formative years of playing music together. Fast forward to around 2016 and we’d invested in writing, recording and producing Empyre’s earliest material with two electric EPs. We’d only recently secured a full four piece line-up at the point we joined Rock People Management and we turned our thoughts and resources to being fully invested in gigging, touring and producing the music for our debut album release which would become “Self Aware”. After a bit of a lineup change Grant and Elliot joined the band in 2017 and 2019 respectively, as they say in Star Wars “the circle was now complete”, the musical circle that is! “Self Aware” was unleashed in July 2019. Since then so much has happened including collaborations with Whispering Bob Harris, Yamaha Pianos and Guitar World Magazine alongside festival appearances at HRH, Planet Rock, Wildfire, Breaking Bands and more. We’ve even been privileged enough to do acoustic sets before Eagles, Shinedown and Alter Bridge at Arena Birmingham. Fast forward to the present and with the pandemic aside throughout 2020 into 2021 we’ve been steadily releasing our acoustic singles which are reinterpreted versions of “Self Aware” tracks. Henrik: You may have noticed that “acoustic” is a running theme with us and this has culminated with our acoustic album ‘The Other Side’ being released on April 30th. It comprises 9 singles, some guitar based, some piano based, and one even features an orchestra. And somehow the tracks have worked out so well that several arguably sound bigger than their electric counterparts on “Self Aware”. Influences/sound? Did: Audioslave, Dave Matthews Band, Dire Straits, Avril Lavigne, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Joe Satriani Henrik: Pearl Jam, Guns N’ Roses, Dire Straits, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, ABBA, Stone Temple Pilots, Alter Bridge Elliot: Alter Bridge, Twenty One Pilots, Shinedown, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Black Country Communion. Grant: Dizzy Mizz Lizzy (thanks Henrik), King’s X, Tool, Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Alter Bridge Sound? Henrik: My favourite quotes have been “the love child between Soundgarden and Pink Floyd”, “the closest musical reference point is Pearl Jam at their most glowering and emotionally intense” and “atheist rock”. In


my view we’re not pure hard rock, we’re not quite prog, we like a big riff as much as we like something delicate and stirring, whilst still being intense. Did: New rock, modern rock for the current era. Atmospheric and intense. Dynamic music that swings between epic and minimalist. Catchy, melodic music that opens the listener’s ears to a multitude of musical hooks and emotions. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? Did: Last year we played Planet Rock’s Winter’s End and our set was the hangover opener set for Sunday. The majority of the audience weren’t aware of Empyre but the reception we received from our set was quite overwhelming. We had a merch queue of 45 mins post gig and sold out of everything. They were really appreciative and passionate rock fans and it was a great experience to play an Empyre set to brand new people and experience that kind of response. It was crazy!

Henrik: There have been a few that it’s hard to choose between. Seeing us in Classic Rock Magazine for the first time, seeing the King Billy venue in Northampton packed to the rafters for our gig on our first ever tour with people saying they hadn’t seen it so full for years, Planet Rock Winter’s End, the ‘Self Aware’ album party at The Water Rats, London and playing the abandoned zoo on HRH Ibiza Roadtrip, there was just something about that amphitheatre with the “moat” and it being our first gigs outside the UK that made it very special. Grant: Our first HRH AOR was pretty special as we got to do three sets in a day! The “Self Aware” album launch is also up there. Playing to crowd made up of friends, family and hardcore Empyre fans was incredible but humbling as we owe everything to these people. Elliot: Last year at Planet Rock’s Winters End we opened up on the Sunday and well all I can say is wow! We didn’t expect the response we got and it was unbelievably overwhelming. We introduced ourselves to a lot of new rock fans in our favourite fashion, on a big stage, live and loud! What does the future hold for Empyre? Henrik: Our primary goal (aside from writing the best music we can) has always been to play the biggest rock festivals of Europe. That’s goal number one for me and it really feels achievable at the moment. We’re ambitious and I think that’s being recognised, Kerrang!, Classic Rock Magazine and Guitar World have all suggested our music would not be out of place in an arena and we just hope that the rock fans out there discover us and agree. What we know at present is we have the acoustic album ‘The Other Side’ coming out on April 30th, that’s studio recorded acoustic versions and re-interpretations of tracks from our debut ‘Self Aware’. On May 30th we perform a very special acoustic album party at The Waterloo Blackpool and come July we have festivals such as Call of the Wild and Steelhouse, then later in the year Planet Rockstock, Winterstorm and of course HRH ABC in November and we’ve recently announced a tour with Mason Hill and Hollowstar for September 2021. That’s quite a bit along with finishing off the recording of the second electric album, which is pretty much written and the chances are those people that see us on the Mason Hill tour and festivals later this year will start to get to hear those songs. Grant: Empyre World Tour has a nice ring to it…. Elliot: Hitting all the biggest stages around the world and having fans singing back to us and of course I need to see some air drumming!

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THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA “Somebody labelled us as hillbilly Rush that works for us!”

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THe OUTLAW ORCHeSTRA HRH favourites The Outlaw Orchestra have released a new mini-album, which was a great excuse to catch up with frontman ‘Rocker’ Dave Roux. Hi Dave, thank you for taking timeout to chat for HRH Mag - the new mini-album Powercut came out a few days ago, can you tell us more about it and how it came to be? Throughout summer when allowed we’d get together, sit in a garden and jam acoustically like we always do before or after a gig. Pete and I started on some new songs that took shape then quickly became a handful of songs. I said “we should stick a mic in a room and record these like we’re in a dressing room at a venue. Lockdown then struck again so we had Ryan record drums in his garage studio, Pete did banjo, pedal steel and bass in his studio and I recorded vocals and guitar in mine. We mixed it online with our engineer/producer Dave Evans and said “This is us when folk have gone home, the chairs are up the lights are down and there are no amps, just us a few beers and our country roots”. It was a session on Rattlesnake Radio, so you just decided to put the 8 tracks out as a recording? We hooked up with The Rattlesnake 982.5 Radio which is in a one-horse town in middle America, the radio station shares its premises with a gas station, there is a diner that has one dish on the menu if you are sitting in and a penitentiary/correctional facility. DJ Rowdy Mike and Crazy Jeff wanted us to play a session for them so we linked up our new recordings with their great DJ introductions, together we made POWERCUT. Last time I saw you Dave, you were roaming around the forest with your dog Ted, for the single ‘Send Some Whiskey Home’. I guess it was a dead cert for the new album? We had previously released ‘Send Some Whiskey Home’ on the debut album Pantomime Villains but to be honest the recording on POWERCUT is how it was supposed to be when I first jammed it and sung it over in LA at a gutter party (that means beers and deck chairs on the sidewalk) I played and sung it and my friend Trish Burke sang harmony, that’s her on the recording, she is an awesome singer. How is the adorable Ted? Ted is awesome, he loves live music and wags his tail hard at gigs and always howls along with me, I don’t know if it’s complimentary but he only howls when I sing. There are some videos of him doing this if you join The Outlaw Orchestra Brotherhood on Facebook, this is the non-official band page with our friends and supporters. We all have a laugh there, share pics and have fun. We’ll be starting the Outlaw Wolfpack soon whereby we want pics of folk’s dogs in their Outlaw t-shirts....we’re huge dog lovers in The Outlaw Orchestra. You are one of the few bands that play with lap steel and double bass on the current circuit. Are you surprised at the large number of ‘rock’ fans that enjoy your music? We are now a trio and Pete and I share bass duties, Pete isn’t just playing banjo, he is playing bass with bass floor pedals and I have a split guitar/bass rig, it’s like patting your head, rubbing your tummy and juggling at the same time, we might sound like country-rock but it’s technical ...someone recently labelled us as HILLBILLY RUSH, that works for us! I think deep down all of us rock and metal fans appreciate roots music in blues and outlaw country. I reckon in the ‘90s, Johnny Cash could have played Download and he’d have been as bad-ass as the next guy, that’s our angle and who doesn’t love a cowboy bad-ass and a bar-room brawl even if you’re a metalhead thru to a Nashville guitar-slinger!

Not being able to play live, are you busy writing at the moment? We never stop Diane, if you head to you’ll see that we put out a weekly cover song on our videos page. We recorded virtually and covered anything from The Animals to Creedance Clearwater to The Rolling Stones to The Dukes Of Hazzard theme tune. You cannot let the voice or fingers get rusty and then we recorded and released POWERCUT and have already recorded six tracks for the new electric album that will be out in September. We’ve had plenty of play from Planet Rock radio to being a regular band on Roadhouse Radio Nashville...we’re keeping busier than ever. One of your songs is called ‘Chicken Fried Snake’ would you eat Fried Snake if it was on the menu? What’s the most bizarre food you’ve eaten? Great question, Pete and myself are vegetarian so we’d pass on the snake Ryan however, will try anything once, he is a real foodie, he is a really great cook as well as being a connoisseur of whiskey, I have no doubt he’d put an entire snake into a baguette, lace it with a balsamic reduction add a pinch of cilantro and handful of crushed pecans and a side of Tahini which would appeal to his Texas-Egyptian palette! Most bizarre food eaten - a pint of juiced celeriac first thing in the was it? Explosive, I’ll leave it there! What else is coming up for The Outlaw Orchestra, do you have any gigs planned yet? Lots and lots of gigs booked from June onwards (fingers crossed) plenty around Sheffield and Doncaster. A tour of Ireland in December and every corner of the UK should be covered by January. What else have you been up to during lockdown? Buying way too many instruments, making rock’n’roll jewellery for many Outlaw friends - I am a goldsmith by trade and still keep my hand in! Have you any message for your fans and HRH Mag readers? We are looking forward to getting back up to Sheffield, we used to say it was our second home but to be honest, it’s now become The Outlaw Orchestra home...we love it up there and we have so many friends in the city of steel. We can’t wait to rock out with our friends from the South up to Scotland not forgetting we are covering Wales and Ireland this’ll be a blast. HRH have always been so damn good to us and helped us build a huge circle of friends in the north so we are forever grateful to you guys and its a pleasure to spend a little time chatting with you, we love you guys XX WORDS: DIANE DAVIES PHOTO: SIMON DUNKERLEY

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marty friedman

“I’m just going to keep doing it as long as I love doing it” Following a ten-year tenure with Megadeth, that included some of the band’s seminal albums such as ‘Rust In Peace’, ‘Countdown to Extinction’ and ‘Youthanasia’, Marty Friedman turned his attention to a solo career and started a new life in Tokyo. In Japan, the axeman extraordinaire has become somewhat of a household name, with frequent TV appearances and a whole lot more. Very recently Friedman was even appointed as an Ambassador to Japan Heritage. Subsequently, ten years after his last instalment, Marty Friedman is getting ready to revisit his Tokyo Jukebox series. The latest release of which fuses Friedman’s virtuoso playing intertwined with a songbook of Japanese artists to produce a whole raft of genre-defying and somewhat unique cover songs. Speaking of the release Friedman said: “My fan base is very dedicated, and what I have found is that lots of new fans have been introduced to Japanese music and culture through me, which is very gratifying. On the tours it seems like aside from the dedicated guitar fans, the Japan fanatics have been noticeably growing, so now felt like the right time to do ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3”. HRH Mag caught up with Marty Friedman to get the lowdown on ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3’, life in Japan and his role as an Ambassador of Japan Heritage. With this album, you’re bringing together the J-pop world along with the rock and instrumental guitar world. Was it your intention to blur the lines of genre and create music without boundaries or borders so to speak? Absolutely, even subliminally. Most of the songs on the album, the original versions are very far from the interpretation that I’ve done. For example, in the first video that just came out – ‘Makenaide’ - the original version is a very light, airy kind of pop song. But my version starts as an up-tempo metal song and then it gets to this dooming, hellish section that winds up in an extremely uplifting crescendo. At the end of it, it’s like a happy ending. So, with all of these kinds of things, the arrangement takes top priority rather than the genre. The video for ‘Makenaide’ is stunning. I love what you’ve done with that, it’s very creative. It must have been quite difficult to orchestrate that video and the collaborations within it during the strange time that we’re in right now? Orchestrating it was probably a product of the strange time we’re in. More people are playing the guitar at home, which is fantastic for me. I got the idea from looking into my fan group. I have a Facebook fan group where just the maniac, super fans all gather in there and they run the group. I come in there and check it out and they’re all playing my songs. A lot of these musicians are playing it well and it just gives me such a great thrill. I mean, it’s not the kind of thing that I got to see when I was a teenager playing in bands. Do you know what I mean? People would say, oh, I play your songs at home, but now I can see it with my eyes. And it just really gave me a thrill. I thought, why don’t I at least ask these people if they want to do it in a video. I thought no one was going to want to do it. I thought that they would be afraid, or they didn’t want to learn the song. But then I just put it up, I put a little blurb in the fan group. So many people signed up that we immediately had to shut it down because we had too many people for the video. The director said, if we do this, 90 people are going to be tiny in there, so you can’t go over 90. But we got 126. And he said, if I’m clever, I can make this work, but we had to shut it off and a lot of people got shut out and I had to apologize. But everybody got their faces in there and their playing is in there and it was just such a thrill. To them, it feels like I gave back to them, but to me, it feels like they gave to me. I don’t feel like I gave back at all, I feel like I’m the one who received all of their energy and all that. So, it was a wonderful thing they all did. On this album, you’ve got the ‘Japan Heritage Theme Song’, which I know is quite an interesting piece. You worked with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the same time, you’ve been an appointed an Ambassador of Japan Heritage by the Japanese government. How did that make you feel? I was so honoured to be appointed as an ambassador to Japan heritage and doing these government events. I mean, it was like an out of body experience because I’m just like a rock dude from the East Coast, but every single experience turns into another one. And that really kind of blew my mind. I’m very honoured, but the first thing that they had me do was write a song - an official theme song. Now it comes into a responsibility because I didn’t want it to get shut down. I didn’t want them to say, well, this is not what we wanted, we will hire someone else to do this. I wanted to show them that I was worthy of being asked to do such a thing. But I’m really not worthy of being an ambassador of anything.

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For whatever reason, I think that they saw that I was being an ambassador without even being asked to be. If I go to other countries, I’m always talking about Japan. I’m always the one people asks about Japan and from a nonJapanese perspective and what’s it like in Japan from my perspective. So, I think even without being an official ambassador, I’m sort of taking on that role and maybe someone up there saw that happening and made it official. I really don’t know why I deserve anything, but that’s the only thing I could guess. So, I wanted to make the song something that they were gonna okay. I wanted to complete the project and I put a lot of energy into that. I wanted to make it something that was not the typical way foreigners hear Japanese music. If you go into a Japanese restaurant, you’ll hear a Koto playing these very old school, traditional Japanese songs, like from the movie Shogun that came out. I wanted to make it more like everyday Japanese melody motifs, and maybe a little sprinkle of a Japanese sonic thing. But for the most part, I wanted it to be very everyday, very normal because I live here. I’m very lucky to experience that. If you don’t live in Japan, all you see are Japanese TV shows, movies and those things. But in real life, life is going on and it’s very everyday. It’s not all the traditional geishas, samurais and sushi. Of course, those are real, but there’s an everyday undercurrent, a very normal, modern Japanese melody. Things that are very distinct and very different from that. I love the artwork and the cover for the album. I think it’s such a vibrant, inspiring, colourful, attention-grabbing image. Did you have a distinct vision of where you wanted to take that? How much were you involved in the concept of the artwork and the design? The first two “Tokyo Jukebox” album covers were both done by the same group of people. I just really thought those albums covers were great. Not because it’s me on it, but because it just fits the music and the concept so well. I just really think they did a good job. And like you said, it’s vibrant and it’s like an album cover from back in the old days when you would hold a record. And I wanted something like that. And so, they just kicked my ass on that. I’m like, well, how are we going to top this? And another thing that worked about the first two was that there was no Photoshop in it - it was makeup. Because you can do Photoshop of anything and it’d be like an Instagram picture or something. Photoshop would be okay, but to do it for real gives you that effect that you and I were both talking about, that realistic album jacket thing. So that was quite an ordeal to have the right makeup person, the right graphic artist, the right photographer - all the stars had to align. So, I got the same group together and I said, look, how are we going to top this, give me some ideas. And then they came up with what it turned out to be. But I was also quite nervous that I was going to come out looking like a guy in drag, you know? And they assured me that if we do it right, it will come up with a serious look. But if it’s too serious, that’s when it starts to get funny. Because there are a lot of Japan-maniac foreigners who dress up like that. And I wanted to be as far away from that as possible. It was very delicate; you’ve got an American guy in a kimono. So, I was very nervous, but I trusted the team and they just killed it. And I’m happy to show that record to anyone. And of course, there’ll be a few people who will see it in the way that I just mentioned and that’s okay, because I’m fine with it. I just think they outdid themselves on it. This album is the third in the “Tokyo Jukebox” series, so it completes a trilogy. That kind of seems like a nice number for a series of albums. Do you think the project will stop here or do you think it will continue to grow? I know it does sound like a nice number - if you do four, it starts to be like one of those - this is what I call music type of series. I like those actually, I’m a huge fan of those, ever since I was a kid, those compilations. But I’m just going to keep doing it as long as I love doing it because to me, I think it’s just another one of my solo records. I mean the stuff comes out sounding just like my own solo records. So as long as the label is interested in doing it and I’m interested in doing it there’ll be more, but there might be a couple of other records in between. I’m always interested in new projects and collaborations and maybe my next thing will be with someone else. Maybe someone will read your article and say, this guy’s just crazy enough that I want to do something with him. Who knows, I’m always up for everything. So, I don’t want to say no, there might be five more of these records in the next few years, who knows. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTOS: SUSUMU MIYAWAKI

marty friedman


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“Going on tour - it’s like a school trip for us!”


Dutch powerhouse Within Temptation have been teasing their fans over the last year with the release of standalone digital singles such as ‘The Purge’ and also ‘Entertain You’. But is there a new album on the horizon from the symphonic metal heavyweights? The answer is still unknown. However, one thing to look forward to, assuming that restrictions are lifted is the band’s imminent European tour. HRH Mag caught up with Within Temptation frontwoman Sharon den Adel to talk about the band’s recent single ‘The Purge’, their forthcoming arena tour with Evanescence, and what they are missing most about life on the road. Continued...

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within temptation

“The Purge is about self-reflection, and also acknowledging the pain you might have inflicted on other people” Sharon Den Adel - Within Temptation

How much are you looking forward to getting back out there and performing for your fans again? Extremely! We can’t wait. As you know, we are so used to this kind of life. It’s a combination of the personal life you have at home and being on the road. It’s a kind of crazy life because they’re so different from each other. Almost schizophrenic in a way; because I need at least a week to cool down from a tour. All this hyperness that’s around on tour. I need to get that out of my system and realize that the rest of the world doesn’t work like that. So, it’s a hectic combination. When you don’t have it, you start to appreciate it even

more than when you already did. We’ve always appreciated it, but now even more so. Now you see that when you can’t do something that you love, there’s so much emphasis on the fact that you can’t do it. You’re not allowed to do it, and you can’t see people. That makes it interesting for everyone involved to see how much it impacts you and how much you love what you’re doing. The lockdown started close to when your tour with Evanescence was due to commence. You must have had a good idea of how the show was going to look? Well, there might be some switches, because in the meantime we’ve written a little bit more new music. The setlist will probably change a little, but it was a pretty good setlist that we had. We’ll have to see what comes off, and maybe we’ll rotate a little bit more with the new songs that we have now released and try to fit them in as well. But I’m really looking forward to it. Also, Evanescence has come out with a lot of new music and a whole album. So, they’re going to have a big scale of songs they can play around with on stage, and that’s going to be fun. I think the same goes for us. For the fans - I hope it will be the pleasure that I think it’s going to be. What have you missed most about being on the road? This whole going on tour, it’s like a school trip for us almost. It’s like being in a candy store. It’s like having fun without any, well, of course, you have responsibilities, but you don’t have to think about the daily stuff. And that makes it a cool school trip almost, but then a rock n roll school trip, of course. It’s a lot of fun together with everyone involved. It’s going from city to city and doing all of this fun stuff. Being on stage, meeting fans, but also doing some cultural stuff. And going to places in the city that you’ve wanted to see that you never have time for; because life is a rollercoaster. It’s really a school trip, a rock n roll school trip. You’ve recently released some new singles including, ‘The Purge’. Can you tell us about that song and the concept behind it? If I have to narrow it down, it’s about selfreflection. I think everyone in life makes decisions at points, which determine which roads you take. And with every road you take, you close doors. Others will open, but also other doors will close at the same time. Especially, when time has been set still, like now, for everyone in the world at the same time.

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within temptation

Myself and the people around me have had time to look back on the choices that they made in life and the roller coaster we have all been in; because life is like that. You get out of school; you get a job; you get your first boyfriend or girlfriend, and you get a family. Everything goes on and on. Your parents were always there, and then they die. All these things happen, and the choices you make will determine which road you take and who you are eventually in life. But sometimes, the choice might’ve been correct or for the right reasons. But when you look back on it, there was a lot of collateral damage. People you hurt maybe, that you didn’t see got hurt by it. The Purge is about self-reflection and also acknowledging the pain you might have inflicted on other people. You only realize it at that point, and then it becomes a burden that you need to get rid of. It’s the only way to do that, in my opinion. That’s also what the song is about - to look it in the eye and to let it purge you at the moment. That it’s come to you and deal with the fact, that was the reality that happened. Then you can go with a clean sheet again, and the weight will go away. I think this happens, not only at a certain age. I think it happens throughout life when you have maybe had an accident, or you got sick, or somebody else got sick. You get time to realize where you are in your life and what you have been doing, and the choices you made and looking back on that. ‘The Purge’ follows on the back of ‘Entertain You’, which was released back in May last year. And that song has got a slightly less symphonic sound. Maybe it’s a little bit more contemporary. It’s kind of a little bit different from what we’ve heard in the past. Was that intentional to showcase a bit of a newer direction for the band? Well, we’re always exploring, and sometimes it’s a little bit different from what we’ve normally done. That gives us a lot of inspiration, and we like to explore that way, but sometimes we come back from

it. Like, okay, we liked it, but it’s just a one-off. At this point, I’m not sure yet what direction the next songs are going to be in because they haven’t been written yet. We have demos, but the final check of a song and the instruments and those kinds of things. Everything can still change a lot. I think with Entertain You, in the lyrics - there was more of a hint of punk in there. I’ve always liked punk music or anything slightly related to that. Also, the lyrics fitted the song, I guess. In Dutch, we would say going into something with a straight leg. Meaning okay, here we are - attack. So here it is. We give it all, and whatever you need to do with it, I don’t care. This is my opinion. This is how I feel. This is how I look at a certain point of view on certain subjects - deal with it. So, it’s a little bit more of an I don’t care attitude kind of song. The music needs to fit with that. I guess that’s a little different from the productions we have done for songs in the past. Do you still have an intention to release a new record, or do you think you’re just going to pursue this new mechanism of releasing digital singles? No, I think we’re going to release an album. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a physical one; you can also make a digital album. But you know, it doesn’t make sense to me somehow. I’m not sure which direction it will eventually take because it’s going to take us some time to complete the album - if it’s going to be an album. Nobody on music platforms listens to a new complete album anymore. They just don’t; they go for the songs that were released as singles. And that’s it I guess. ‘The Purge’ by Within Temptation is out now. For up-to-date details of the band’s forthcoming arena tour with Evanescence visit the band’s website and social media channels.


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joanna connor

JOANNA CONNOR Keeping The Blues Alive you like tickets to see Stevie Ray - I can get you backstage passes? I’m like, yeah. And, it was that show. I went, and I had backstage passes and my son, who was very small – three years old, and his dad, we were sitting there. I remember I was very emotional the whole time. The whole show was amazing. From start to finish - Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray. My son’s father said, let’s go backstage and meet Stevie Ray. And I was like, no man, I don’t want to do that. I know that someday I’m going to play with him at some festival; I want to meet him as a musician. I don’t want to be back there. So, they went back there and then Stan, who also died this year - (Stan was the bass player in my band and the father to my son Jovaughn). He came back with my son. He said, oh, he was so cool. Stevie Ray said, come here, and he put Jovaughn on his lap, and Jovaughn knocked Stevie Ray’s hat off, and Stevie Ray laughed and put it on my son’s head. And then I was like, oh, that’s so cool. He said he was super-nice; you should have come. I’m like, man, someday, I’ll play with him. And then look at what happened; it was devastating to me. That messed my head up for a long time. So, I sat next to Reese, and I’m like, I never got to play with Stevie Ray, but I’m playing with Reese Wynans in the studio all these years later, and I started to cry. He looked at me, and he kept playing. And after he was like - girl, I’m not that. And I said, yeah, man, you are that. I didn’t tell him the story. I didn’t want to bring up that memory or anything because I don’t know how he would take it. So, it was a heavy moment.

WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTO: MARYAM WILCHER Chicago-based guitar supremo Joanna Connor made headline news when her latest album hit the number #1 spot on the Billboard Blues chart. Connor’s critically acclaimed latest offering has been released under the ‘KTBA Records’ imprint and produced by none other than Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith.HRH Mag caught up with Joanna Connor ahead of the album’s release to get the lowdown on ‘4801 South Indiana Avenue’, working with Joe Bonamassa, and her time with the late great Luther Allison. Joanna also shares her memories of being in attendance at Stevie Ray Vaughan’s last ever concert. Your new album is titled ‘4801 South Indiana Avenue’, which I understand is tied to the location of legendary blues club Theresa’s Lounge. In terms of your approach, were you trying to channel the feeling from that room? How did you go about trying to capture that Chicago blues club vibe on the record? The idea was that Joe chose the tunes with my approval. We went to his house in Nashville along with Josh Smith. They played the songs, we picked the keys, and they then put them together. He assembled all of us, and we recorded in one room. He was in the control room with his guitar, but all of the rest of us were in one room with baffles. And he told all of us, if we don’t get this in less than two takes, we’re going to keep moving because I want that energy. If it doesn’t work, we’ll come back, or we’ll throw it away. And almost every song was first take. We never did anything more than three times, and we played everything live. The only thing we overdubbed was my vocals later, background vocals, the horns, and some percussion. Everything else was completely live. He inspired us. When we did a cut - if it sounded like we were lackadaisical, he said come on guys. He has a fantastic sense of humour. He would say something witty or pretty outrageous, and we’d laugh and go at it. He was just good at keeping everybody motivated. But the players he assembled were so good. I mean, they nailed it. Even though it was 11 a.m. at a Nashville studio, it felt like we were on stage. Reese Wynans from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble played on the album. I read that you were at Stevie’s last show. How did that feel to be in the same room with Reese performing? It must have been pretty heavy? It was heavy. I didn’t tell Reese, but I was sitting between Reese to my left and Josh Smith to my right, and I was there with my amp in a closet behind in the other room, and he started playing. And it’s a story I don’t talk about much, but I had done an album produced by Jim Gaines, who produced Stevie Ray’s ‘In Step’ album. And he also was on tour with Santana as a sound engineer. So, Santana was playing at one Amphitheatre. Stevie Ray was in Wisconsin at the other. And Jim Gaines called me and said Joanna, would

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There’s an eclectic mix of blues on the album, including deeper cuts from the greats. I just wondered if you have a favourite track from that repertoire? And if so, which song and why? Every track brought its own story, musically, lyrically, and arrangement wise. I loved the way Joe and Josh kind of tweaked it and just gave something extra into everything. It’s what keeps it musically fresh. Vocally, it was a challenge, and there is a little story here. Joe pushed my vocals. He’s like - you’re a guitar player, everybody knows your guitar playing. I want your vocals as tough as you’re playing. So, he really pushed. He was like, okay, are you ready because I’m going to push you? I’m like - I’m ready. I’ve been playing in the Chicago Blues scene. There’s nothing you could do that can be that dramatic or forceful to me. So, I was ready for that. I mean, every track had its own beauty and its impact. Probably the heaviest track for me in a way was “Bad News” because it was a Luther Alison cut. I had toured with Luther for years. I used to stay in his apartment. He was recording, I think ‘Soul Fixin’ Man’ and we were in his apartment for a month in France. We were pretty tight, and when he passed, I was pregnant with my daughter. My son used to come to Europe a lot and play the drums. He was a little kid, and he loved Luther, and Luther would let him play drums and Bernard. And then Luther used to have my son come up and dance with them. During the show, Jovaughn and Luther were dancing and boogieing. And he was a force - Luther had so much energy. My son came up to see me, and he said Mommy, I don’t know, there’s something’s wrong with Luther? And I’m like, what do you mean something wrong with Luther? He said I have a bad feeling. My son was nine, and Luther got cancer that year and passed. And it freaked me out; how did my son know this? He just felt something. They had a kind of connection, because you could not tell anything was wrong with him. That was a heavy metaphysical moment too. So that tune had its own weight to it, besides being a great song. Then all of these songs, because they were all made by such great blues people, for me to step in their shoes was always like, (takes a deep breath) here we go. I’ve also got Joe Bonamassa sitting there, which itself was incredibly intimidating to me at first. I was like - I’m flying on the aeroplane going, you’re going to be sitting next to one of the greatest guitar players ever. Don’t freak out. Just do your thing. Do you have plans to tour here in Europe, or is it a little bit too early to think about that? Everything’s on hold because none of us knows. I know I was supposed to be in Russia touring with a band with Nathan East, which was unbelievable. They said, well, we were looking at next year, but we might not even do that. I don’t know - I will come as soon as I’m able to. If they want me to quarantine for two weeks somewhere, I’ll do it - I don’t care. I’m just waiting for the word go! ‘4801 South Indiana’ by Joanna Connor is out now via KTBA Records.


19 Soundgarden – Down on The Upside The band’s last album before their breakup a year later, this would be the last we would hear of the kings of grunge until 2012’s amazing swansong King Animal. Down on The Upside, together with Stone Temple Pilots’s Tiny Music and Tool’s Aenima defined the year for me album wise. Evergreen classics such as Burden in My Hand, Pretty Noose and Blow Up The Outside World are the standout tracks from this self-produced work. Grunge was maturing like a smelly cheese – but I love smelly cheese, so all was good. However, it did mark the beginning of the end of grunge’s heyday – with pop punk and nu-metal just around the corner. It would be 3 years until Chris Cornell would resurface with his solo debut Euphoria Morning and a further 3 years until the much-loved Audioslave and their incredible debut in 2002.

Tool – Aenima The second full-length from Keenan and co – and the first to feature former Peach bassist Justin Chancellor, the British band I was lucky enough to see on Tool’s Undertow tour in ’93 / ’94. If you love Tool’s music, I highly recommend checking out Suns of the Tundra – in effect the latest incarnation of post-Challinor Peach. Aenima is a stunning piece of work, one which deserves to be listened to full blast in one sitting – over and over. And that’s what I did, albeit mostly in the car while driving! The album now appears in many lists of most influential rock and metal albums, and deservedly so. Standout tracks Stinkfist, Aenima and Forty Six & 2 heard live are an experience in themselves - Tool remain the last band to play Download Festival (due to 2 years off thanks to Covid) so that’s still my freshest memory from Donington which is kind of cool.

Rage Against The Machine – Evil Empire It was an incredible 4 years since their incendiary self-titled debut in 1992, so Evil Empire had a lot to live up to. If Evil Empire delivered is still hotly debated. Tire Me won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, but for me at least, Bulls on Parade is by far the standout track here and the one most heard to this day on rock radio.

Metallica – Load Metallica’s self-titled album had already caused ructions in their fanbase, but any fans lost were replaced a hundred-fold with the seminal work resulting in Metallica being and remining one of the biggest bands on the planet. The question was, could the band possibly follow one of the biggest metal albums of all time? Many would argue that Metallica failed, even after waiting 5 years to do so, but Load is still a really good album with more favourite tracks than I could initially recall. Load saw a more hardrock approach with the band not only citing influences such as Pantera and grunge pioneers Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, but more diverse bands such as ZZ Top, Aerosmith and even Oasis. That variety can be heard no better than in the uber-cool Mana Said, while Until It Sleeps, King Nothing and Hero of The Day are great tracks that stand the test of time.

A deeper listen to the record reveals a more varied album than their first, albeit with less killer tracks than its predecessor. Down Rodeo is such a cool song – with the intro hinting at what would be a kind of signature sound for the aforementioned collaboration Audioslave when Commerford, Morello and Wilk would team up with Chris Cornell to create what is probably my favourite supergroup of all.

Skunk Anansie – Stoosh A heavier album than their debut released the previous year, Stoosh for me is the defining Skunk Anansie record. Tracks such as Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good) and Brazen (Weep) are the beautiful soft-underbelly to the album which sports brilliant riff-tastic songs like the album opener and Twisted (Everyday Hurts). There’s hints of Rage Against The Machine, a touch of post-grunge and plenty of hard-rock angst on this album which now feels way ahead of its time. A nice little footnote - Skunk Anansie were the first band that my better-half and I saw live after our first child came into this world.

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Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop The third album from the grunge heavyweights followed one of my favourite albums of all time, 1994’s Purple. The intro track – Press Play – is so damn cool and bode well for what was to come, and it certainly didn’t disappoint even with the band taking a more varied approach to the album’s overall sound compared to its predecessor. Every track is a true gem, with the album possibly at its peak with the utterly stunning Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart. Every album following their debut Core featured a truly gorgeous sing-along slowy (Purple’s Pretty Penny, No.4’s Sour Girl for example) and this album is no exception with the addictive Art School Girl following Trippin’ on the tracklist. Legendary producer Brendan O’Brien weaves his magic (even playing piano and percussion on many tracks) on an album that cemented Stone Temple Pilots place in rock history.


96 Bush – Razorblade Suitcase Enjoying far more success in the US than at home in the UK, Bush fell into the grunge camp especially with this, their second full-length release. Seminal tracks Swallowed and Greedy Fly are the obvious highlights. The album was produced by Steve Albini, who also worked on Nirvana’s In Utero, and it shows. Some see this is a bad thing, others a good thing – especially in the US where the album hit top spot. I can’t say I’ve kept up with the band since this album, maybe I should fix that especially as they reformed in 2010 and have since released another 4 albums, albeit with only frontman Gavin Rossdale being the only founder member left in the band.

Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow Possibly the least obvious choice for 1996 is this stunner from Missouri native Sheryl Crow. It was the amazing singles A Change Would Do You Good, If It Makes You Happy and Every Day Is a Winding Road that drew me into this record. This is officially her 2nd studio album, although an unofficial, unreleased debut disc does exist for the more hard-core fans to find. This self-titled record is still considered to be Sheryl’s best, and apart perhaps from the last song (at least on the original release) Ordinary Morning, it hits the spot track after track. It’s just a really good chilled bluesrock album and her voice is – simply – stunning.

Pearl Jam – No Code The second album on this list to feature the production talents of Brendan O’Brian, No Code is the fourth studio album from Seattle’s most famous musical export. Ten, Vs. and Vitalogy before it set a very high bar, and although the album features a more diverse range of styles than the previous records, as a result it also doesn’t pack the same punch for me at least. However repeated listens when doing my homework before seeing Pearl Jam live for the first time a few years back elevated the album in my estimation with the deeper cuts provided a great backdrop to the big hitters Hail, Hail and Smile. Yield, No Code’s successor just 2 years later, would be a more accessible album but I see these two albums as a pair to be enjoyed in the same sitting and mark the end of the 20th Century for Pearl Jam.

Def Leppard – Slang Despite the Sheffield legends having formed way back in 1977, Slang is surprisingly only their sixth studio album – and one which perhaps saw the biggest change in direction with a harder edge – although it very much still sounds like only Def Leppard can. The opening track Truth? kicks straight in with the new approach – although due to mixed success the band would revert back to a more familiar aural landscape for 1999’s Euphoria. The overall feel of the record also reflects personal issues with band members, with lyrics about bereavement and breakups prevalent, matching the darker tone of the music in general. It’s probably here that I should admit that I’ve seen Def Leppard live more than most bands – in fact only Black Stone Cherry and Rush will beat them on that particular measure, thanks to my better half being an uber-fan!

Rush – Test For Echo The final album from Rush to be released in the 20th Century, Test For Echo had a huge act to follow with the previous three album – Presto, Roll The Bones and Counterparts – being my favourite Rush era, partially because they coincided with my ability to see them perform live on the accompanying tours, whereas everything previous bar Power Windows was a ‘retrospective’ purchase from their back-catalogue. The firsy half of the album certainly hits the spot. The opener and title track kicks hard and is followed by the live favourite Driven. Half the World is a great track, and Color of Right also keeps up the quality. Things do go downhill slightly and become less memorable, so this album doesn’t end up in the top echelons of Rush’s prolific output for most fans. It wouldn’t be until 2007’s Snakes & Arrows that Rush would once again hit the very pinnacle of prog rock.

Screaming Trees – Dust The only album here that I’ve ‘discovered’ retrospectively, Dust really is an amazing album. 1992’s Sweet Oblivion contained their best-known song, Nearly Lost You, and was expected to propel Screaming Trees into the big league to join the likes of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains at grunge’s top table. But it never quite happened, although vocalist Mark Lanegan, drummer Barrett Martin and touring guitarist Josh Homme would go on to have long lasting careers. This album - featuring the brilliant All I Know and Dying Days - is the bands seventh studio release. Their debut Clairvoyance came out as early as 1986, and is almost unrecognisable from the more polished but still grunge sound of Dust. Definitely a band to check out if you haven’t already.

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“If the Corona crisis didn’t happen there wasn’t a Wolffpack album. We would still be on tour right now...” When you hear “Wolffpack”, images of the Hollywood movie The Hangover immediately springs to mind. But it also happens to be the name of the latest album and fanbase of Dutch psychedelic rock trio DeWolff. Earlier this year, the three-piece released their ninth studio album. And as impressive as that is, it’s not quite as aweinspiring as the fact that it’s the band’s fourth album in four years. To say that the band are in somewhat of a creative place right now is an understatement Singer/Guitarist Pablo van de Poel explains: “I figured: never in our lives are we going to have this much time again to soak up inspiration, to write and create… Music is our favourite thing in the world.” Due to the restrictions imposed during the pandemic, the writing and recording of the album were far from normal. The guys went about setting up a via WhatsApp, namely “DeWolff Demo Panel”, for them to exchange ideas. Subsequently, the band tested out the fruits of their labours on their dedicated fanbase via a sub-scription service, which they appropriately named Wolffpack. The members of which were new sent songs over ten weeks. Subsequently, the fan’s had an input into the final tracklisting of the album. HRH Mag caught up with the three-piece at home in the Netherlands at the end of 2020 to get the lowdown on their new album, their lockdown activities and the creative period that the band are currently going through. In the last three years, you’ve released three albums, and this will be the fourth album in four years. Do you feel that you’re in a creative place right now? Yeah, but it also feels right. If we have time off, we dive into the studio and start writing and start recording, and it feels really natural. It’s not that our label or manager says, hey, guys, it’s time for another album. When are you going to record? It’s always from our side; we dive into the studio because it’s just fun to do. So, yeah, I understand that. For the outside world, it looks super creative. Whoa, how do these guys do it? But yeah, for us, it feels natural to write and rec-ord almost every year. The reason that we release so many records in such a short time is not that we’re getting more creative, but we have more free time. Because if the Corona crisis didn’t happen there wasn’t a Wolfpack album. We would still be on tour right now. Your last album, Tascam Tapes, was recorded on the road with a four-track cassette re-corder from the 80s. How did you approach your latest album? I think as we were recording Tascam Tapes, by the time we’d finished it, we said to each other, alright, the next record is going to be a normal record with the three of us playing together. This next record started being made, and it still wasn’t going to be a normal record because we had the lockdown here. So, in the first couple of weeks at least, we chatted a lot over Zoom about songs. I would send demos to this WhatsApp group that we have. And some of them would be approved, like, these are cool, and some of them not so much. And then we decided which ones were going to be the wolf songs. In Zoom meetings, we went over the songs, and it would be like, oh, this part should be there or and maybe this Hammond part here, etc. The next day Luca and I would record the basic tracks to tape and maybe add some stuff. And then we would send it to Robin, and he would add his Hammond at home. And that’s how we made a couple of songs. And then, towards the summer, the rules got very loose, and everybody was kind of almost back to normal again. It was very crowded in the street, outside and in the city centre. We got back together again, here with the three of us, and we wrote and recorded some songs together again. That was a pleasure to do. I think at the very end of the album we were spending so much time together again that we also did the mixes together on the board. The album was written during the pandemic. Did that influence any of the songs on the album? Well, I think a lot of Tascam Tapes songs are about being on the road because that was what we were doing at that moment. The amount of free time we had because of the lockdown provided the opportunity to read some books; watch some documentaries; see some movies. I got a lot of inspiration for the lyrics, at least. And for inspiration musicwise, I just turned to my brothers. There is one song where the lyrics are about the lockdown and the whole situation, but that’s just one song on the album. I think music-wise, we get inspiration from each other, I guess. Last September, you performed some unique shows accompanied by an orchestra. What was that experience like? Yeah, it was special. The opportunity came because of Corona, otherwise, we wouldn’t have had the time to do it. And the orchestra were looking for new exciting projects to do. They con-tacted us, and we were like, hell yes, we want to do this. The plan was to do it in early 2021. In our minds, we were thinking, oh, there’s a lot of time for preparation for that. All of a sudden, it turned out that we had to do it in September because that was the only period that the orchestra could do it. We were like, oh, but we don’t have enough time, because that’s in two months. But then it turned out that this orchestra is super professional. We sent the arrangers a setlist, they arranged, and they made the scores for all the instruments, every single one of them. And then we had two rehearsals, the day before the show and the day before that date. From the first mo-ment we started playing, it was like alright - this is going to be so awesome. How are you feeling about 2021? Are you still feeling uncertain? Have you got any plans? Are you waiting to see how things pan out? I don’t dare to be optimistic. I mean, I want to be. I was very optimistic at the beginning of the pandemic. When our shows got cancelled, I was bummed out. I think we all were bummed out. But for me, personally, I thought we’re going to reschedule these shows, and we’ll do them in four months, it’s going to be all right. But then everything changes all the time. But also, every-thing stays the same all the time, kind of. The one thing we’re optimistic about is that the new album is coming out. That’s one thing we’re looking forward to. We don’t know if we’re going to be able to tour with the new album. Maybe we have to make another one. But yeah, the one thing I’m looking forward to is releasing that and playing the release show at the beginning of February. Maybe there will be an audience maybe not, but we’ll make a live stream and make sure that a lot of people will be able to watch that. And we’re just going to make a party out of it. And that’s the one thing I’m looking forward to. And after that, we’ll see! WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTO: SATELLITE JUNE

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THE DAMN TRUTH There is an old saying, sooner or later, the truth will come out. Thankfully, in this instance, we aren’t talking about the details of some sinister scandal but rather the forthcoming album from Montreal based quartet The Damn Truth. If you haven’t heard of The Damn Truth, get ready to meet your new favourite band. These guys are the best thing to come out of Canada since Maple Syrup and Rush. The four piece’s latest offering was produced by non-other than Bob Rock. Of course, Mr Rock was at the helm in the control room on the likes of Metallica’s ‘Black Album’, The Cult’s ‘Sonic Temple’, and Motley Crue’s ‘Dr. Feelgood’, to name but a few. But has the producer extraordinaire been able to work his magic on ‘Now or Nowhere’ by The Damn Truth? The answer is most definitely yes! HRH Mag caught up with Lee-la, Tom, Dave and PY at their studio in Montreal, Canada, to get the lowdown on their latest album, working with Bob Rock, and their formation. How are you keeping in these strange times? I don’t know what it’s like in Canada, but it’s still difficult here in the UK right now. Lee-la: It’s weird days. At first, we kind of all went crazy and had no idea what we were going to do. We took it to the extent that okay, this is the end of the world, and we’ll probably never see each other again. And then, we took a deep breath and decided to see what we can do to continue making music together. So, we started a series from home, each of us in our own homes. We just thought, well, let’s start covering songs that we love. And each week, we would bring an idea. Within the second week, we started getting ideas from fans and people that gave us ideas of what sound they’d like to hear. And that kept us going for a good two months. In one of the recordings off of that, we did a cover of “Gimme Shelter”. And that got added to the Canadian radio and ended up being one of our biggest charting songs of all time. So that’s pretty awesome and unexpected. It was a great way to keep in touch with our people.

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Dave: We also had an unfinished record in the bank. So, what we had started with Bob Rock was unfinished in a sense. We had only gone out to do half of the record with him. So, throughout COVID, there was this kind of burning thing inside of us that was like, we’ve got to finish this record. So, over the last couple of months, in addition to the songs we love, we finished our record. The whole process of recording and then getting it mixed and mastered and the artwork - we’ve had a lot to keep the fire roaring in the band over the last couple of months. So, after that first wave of chaos, we started to get momentum going. I think we’re all just grateful that we have this project because it’s kept a lot of intensity throughout COVID. You recorded ‘Now or Nowhere’ with Bob Rock, who is of the great rock producers of our time. What was it like working with Bob and what did he bring to the table? Lee-la: First of all, his incredible sense and vast knowledge of music, that’s first and foremost. I’ve never met anybody who was so on the ball. From the first moment that we talked with him on the phone, he brought the references from Zeppelin, and from Oasis and from this and that, and it just felt like he just got it. He just got who we were and what rock and roll we wanted to make. We never had to explain anything. He just came with this incredible knowledge of music, and so tasteful. And on our part, we are so damn excited to be working with this man and terrified, knowing that we would have to perform in front of Bob these songs. So, we worked at it like crazy people - nine to five, for months to get it to the place where we said, okay, this is perfect. Now let’s let Bob have a go. This is the best we can do. Now we’re all ears to hear what he can do. And he did not disappoint for a second. Bob came with the same amount of excitement that we all did. And that was what was so incredible. He was working in the warehouse. That’s his choice of place. The studio sits on a warehouse of the most incredible instruments that you can imagine, and amps and all the sounds were there, and everything was at our disposal. We could play around and get

the damn truth

Can You Take The Truth? inspiration from the sounds of the instruments that we were using. And of course, from his own vibe, the direction and the kind of person he is. Everything was just smooth sailing; it was incredible. Dave: It’s organic, his process. I mean, we just set up to play the songs. And after every take, he would have just a little bit of direction to us to get that rock and roll feel that we wanted - energy and emotion and just a good feel from front to back. Easy, great guy, great vibe, great ideas. Tom: I think one of the things that maybe not a lot of people talk about when you think about Bob Rock is that he is amazing with the knobs and getting the tones and the selections and the musical knowledge, but he also is a great psychologist, and he knows people so well. I’ve never had an experience with any other producer who knows how to get the best out of you so well. He has that talent. It’s an important talent to have as a producer, and I think that’s why he’s so successful. PY: You’re nervous until you meet him. I understand that Tom and Lee-la met when naked at a hippie festival near the Sea of Galilee, which is an interesting first meeting. How soon after that did you start the band? How did you come to meet the rest

of the guys? Tom: Well, first of all, I remember that moment, because I heard a beautiful voice singing, ‘Almost Cut My Hair’, by CSNY, and I was drawn to it. And when I got to where she was singing that song, she was naked with a guitar. And I took out my guitar, and we just jammed for hours, maybe the whole night. Immediately there was musical chemistry there. And honestly, like I was proud, we’re probably stoned out of our brains, especially that time in my life. So, I can’t remember exactly how long it took before we started a band, but a couple of months, I guess - who knows? Eventually, we ended up in Montreal and met this guy (Dave) at a gig. We were all hired to do a gig. Dave: We all have a common friend who was putting a band together for a signed artist, it’s kind of like a pop star girl, and we were just all in the room. We were all hired to play behind this artist, and it only lasted like a couple of weeks or months because her deal was kind of faltering. We were all in the room together playing. There was good chemistry; and a good vibe. Once she was out of the way, we just said, Lee-la, get on the mic. The band was already formed. A few years later, after we had been pushing The Damn Truth already at that point, we connected with PY. There was a moment where we had a line-up change, our original bass player left, and this guy fell into our lives and exploded into them basically, and off we went. But I mean, the core of the band is Tom and Lee-la. They had probably another iteration of The Damn Truth before The Damn Truth, as a duo, with releases and stuff like that. It was probably two/three years until we started the band. It was another one of those moments where we were just all in the room at the same time. Some other force had brought us together. The magnet lured us in, and then that was taken away. And we were there. Tom: Another interesting thing about the beginning of this band is that I don’t know if you remember that. But about eight, nine years ago, I don’t know if it was the same in the UK, but for sure, here in Montreal, the music that was very popular was all that indie-pop, synth sound that was going on. It was hard for us to find our place. You couldn’t get gigs, nobody would pay attention to us, any promoters or whatever, because we’re a loud rock band. Lee-la: Nobody knew what to do with that. Nobody knew what to do with me. I have a loud voice, and they couldn’t fit me into a box of the little girl with a high voice that she’s supposed to be singing. I don’t sound like that. Tom: But ultimately, I think that’s what kind of set us apart from everybody else and gave us a stage because we were doing our thing. I mean, we couldn’t do anything else. It’s not like we didn’t want to be part of the cool kids’ scene. But we had to do our thing; we had to play loud rock. And again, that’s like, what Tik Tok did. I figured that if I like it, if we all like it, if we’re into that kind of music, if I’m not into synthpop, there’s got to be other people in our city, in our country, in the world, that are going to feel the same way. And it turned out that was right. ‘Now or Nowhere’ by The Damn Truth will be released on May 7th via Spectra Musique/ Sony Music. WORDS AND PHOTOS: ADAM KENNEDY

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“The hardcore fans will absolutely love this too... a very important era of YES history”


For more info. go to the official Yes Union 30 Live store:

Sometimes you’re waiting for a bus, and then two come along at once - that’s certainly been the case in the Toto camp. At the turn of the year, legendary guitarist Steve Lukather and the band’s lead vocalist Joseph Williams both put out their solo records - ‘I Found The Sun Again’ and ‘Denizen Tenant’ respectively.


“Ringo played the tambourine that’s been on every Beatles record. He’s a dear friend of mine” Steve Lukather page 56




“It’s so easy to work with Steve. We work very, very well together. I wish I had more for him to do!” Joseph Williams page 57

toe to toe...with toto

STEVE LUKATHER album next month. I don’t have any songs except for these three songs that I want to cover. So, I better get to work. And you know, I’m very motivated by deadlines. I like them. They make me do things and finish things. I did enlist the help of some of my outside friends, Stan Lynch from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - a great lyricist; he helped me out. Joseph obviously helped me out. Paich helped me out. And the band showed up and played so great - and the whole team. Ken Freeman is my engineer and co-producer. It just worked out great. It was effortless. I think that’s what I mean by when I said I had so much fun. After take two, I’m sitting back going this is fantastic. Okay, you guys go home, I’m going to do this vocal - and we would do the vocal, and we put it together. And if anything needed to be doubled or anything like that, I did that. And then I sat at home with Joe to do some background vocals, and that was the end of the track. That’s how I did the whole record. It was just so much fun and easy. I let everybody be creative. I hope that people get that because nobody makes records like this, where there’s long fades with jammed out things. I kept all that shit. I said, okay, maybe it’s a little long-winded, but at the same time, people are playing some shit. I want everyone to hear David Paich playing honkytonk piano stuff. And Babko came up with all these weird sound effect things that would just come out of nowhere, and it was cool. So, it was like everybody was smiling during the cutting sessions because they knew there’s so few of them anymore. People don’t make records like this, everybody’s one at a time, and it’s clinical. They used to think Toto was like that, we used to sit in the room with the four of us and play. Until we got a thing, and we didn’t rehearse either. So, I just come from a different world. It’s a different thing for me, and I just wanted to get back to that world and revisit it and see if it was still possible in 2020.

Toto’s Steve Lukather, or “Luke” to his friends, has released an album that showcases the many different sides of his guitar playing. At the same time, the release pays homage to some of his influences. One of which, his bandmate and the great Ringo Starr features on the record. If that isn’t enough, Toto are also gearing up to release a new live album featuring the band’s current incarnation, which was recorded during a global live streaming event at the turn of the year. The concert album is titled ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and will be released via The Players Club on 25th June 2021. HRH Mag caught up with Steve Lukather at home in Los Angeles to get the lowdown on his latest solo album, working with Ringo Star and his thoughts on Toto’s classic rock hit “Africa”. It’s been eight years since your last solo album, ‘Transition’. Did it feel like now was the right time to revisit your solo works? When we ended the last version of Toto last year, I planned on doing something; I made a deal. And Joseph had been working on something for a long time on his own. Prior to the madness, I said I’m going to go and do a record. Sort of the way I want to do a record was mostly live - live solos, live everything, no click tracks, no lining up on the grid, no auto-tuning, and all this shit. I wanted to make a record from 1972, but with 2020 sonics, so it sounded good. No click tracks and no rehearsals. The solos are live, and we’re going to keep them unless something is really awful, and you can’t fix it. And it made me play differently. I was more economical. I was more thoughtful in my playing, so I think I played better because of it. But everybody else did too. These were magical takes. I’ve got some stuff on film that I will release in due time. I have the whole of “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” on film, and I’ll have an accidental video for that. Yeah, it’s a selfindulgent 10-minute song, but the whole record is like that. I’m not trying to have a hit single or something like that. I mean, the Ringo song that David Paich, Joseph Williams and I wrote for his 80th birthday - it was just more in the vein of the late 60s, a nod to the Beatles, ELO - all my favourite bands from that era. So, that came out in the summer, and it did really well for me. Over 500,000 plays on YouTube and 200,000 on Spotify. Which, for me, as an artist, as an old guy, that’s really good. And I’m hoping that they like it. I read a quote from you, in which said you had never had so much fun recording in your life and that the process just flowed. Do you feel that you tapped a creative vein with this album? Well, here’s the funny thing about it. I didn’t have any songs for it. I went on vacation with my girlfriend to Big Sur in January, and I go; we’re starting the

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The first track we got to hear from the album was “Run To Me”, which features Ringo Starr. I know you play alongside Ringo in his all-star band. Was he keen to get involved with this project? Well, he was because he heard the song. I said, we’ve got a song for you that we wrote for your birthday, which is in July. And we just did it and threw it together in a day and a half or something like that, and then played it for him. He loved it. He goes, I want to play the drums. I said that would be awesome. And he went up and played the drums and played that tambourine that’s been on every Beatles record. He’s a dear friend of mine. I love him so much as a person. He and Barbara and the whole family are great. I’m going into nine years with him this summer. So, I mean, we’ve developed a close friendship outside of the band. He lives close. And he’s one of the few people I’ll see very carefully because he’s 80. I’m not going to get Ringo sick. I don’t want to get sick. I’m around older people. I’m older; if I get this shit, they put me at the back of the line like I hope you had a good life. And I have to say, yeah, I did. I can’t be mad. If God had to take me now, I can’t be mad at him. I thank him every day for my blessings and this wonderful life. It’s been hard, some of it’s been emotional and tough - the same as you, the same as everybody, you lose people, there’s tragedy, there’s loss of love, there’s divorce - I hope that’s not for you. But I mean, it happens to most people. There are tragedies in your life that have nothing to do with your job, is my point. Family or somebody’s not talking to somebody. It’s always something, but if I do a broad stroke, I’ve had the best life ever. I’m just going to try to enjoy the rest of it. If people can’t dig that, or they don’t want to know about it, then that’s fine. Go ahead, but go with peace and love, man. I’m just going to hang out with people who like me, and I love them, and we can work together. And yeah, if people want to come out and enjoy it, then great. You know if they miss the old Toto and prefer not to, I understand, that’s cool. I’m still here, and I want to play. I was looking at the video for “Africa” on YouTube, and it had 600 million streams, which is around ten times the population of the UK. It’s crazy! We struck a nerve with that silly song. I think it’s because it’s not political, it’s not a love song, it’s a crazy little feel-good song. It’s kind of goofy, it’s got silly lyrics, and it makes people dance and sing. Especially if you’ve had a few drinks. I can see how it’s our “Don’t Stop Believing” if you will. And ironically, my son Trevor is getting married to Madison, who is [Journey keyboard player] Jonathan Cain’s daughter. Jonathan and I have known each other since we were teenagers. And that’s kind of funny. Who would have thought it’s getting more incestuous by the day. “I Found The Sun Again” by Steve Lukather is out now via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group.

toe to toe...with toto


albums together. It wasn’t going to be a combined Lukather/Williams thing at all. My solo album was originally going to be a Joe Williams solo album and separate from Toto. This is why Landau was the primary guitar player on the whole project. It’s a problem, but it’s a good problem to have. Where do you fit Steve Lukather on the record? So, it was very much after the fact that I had to find places to put Luke on my record, except for a few things. Like on “Remember Her”, he’s done a solo that was always going to be there for him. That was a special place. And then “If I Fell”, it was a natural Luke thing. He plays in the Peter Gabriel song too. That was all. So, there’s a couple of things that were planned. But then there were a couple of songs where I just went, oh, you know what, play right here. So, I can put you on the list. But the thing is, it’s so easy to do because he can play anything. And he can play it so fast. I have a mobile rig that I take up to his house, and we work fast. I mean, we’ve both been working in the studio all our lives. So, it doesn’t take long, we know how to do it, and I’ll bring it home and edit it. And it’s just fun. You recently played a global live stream with the new Toto lineup. How did it feel to perform live again, but this time via the wonders of the internet? It was strange. I mean number one; it felt great to get up and play. It felt great to rehearse. It felt unbelievably great to play with those musicians, these new guys. This cat who sings and plays keyboards, Steve Maggiora is unreal, and Sput, our drummer.

With all systems go in the Toto camp, the band’s singer Joseph Williams released his first solo album in 13 years. The album features appearances from Toto bandmates Steve Lukather, David Paich and a star-studded array of musical guests. HRH Mag caught up with Joseph Williams at home in Los Angeles to talk about his latest solo album, working with Steve Lukather on their respective solo projects and the present incarnation of Toto. Your album title ‘Denizen Tenant’ is quite an interesting one, and it’s also rather obscure - can you give us a bit of a background about the album title and its meaning? I love that people are like, what is it? I had a same similar reaction when I saw those two words together. It’s not something that I came up with. There’s a song on the album called ‘Denizen Tenant’ that I co-wrote with a guy named Steve Overton. And he’s this incredible guy. He’s like a mathematician on the side. This guy’s real analytical, and he’s very witty and very sarcastic. And the lyrics are his. It was a piece that he had that was about two minutes long. It was unfinished, but he did have some of those words in there. And I filled out some stuff when I took it and finished it. His piece was called “Your Other Left”. But in the chorus, he was singing Denizen Tenant. I was like, what does that mean? So, I looked up Denizen, which means you’re an occupant. And you’re a tenant in your home or your flat or wherever you are. So, if you put those two words together, it’s basically redundant. But a Denizen, or one of the definitions, at least one of the ones I found, is a cat who wanders into your house and makes it its home. And another one I saw, which was not in any dictionary, was the guy who comes to your party and doesn’t leave. The thing that never leaves. That’s really what a Denizen Tenant is in the meaning of the song. It’s like a bad roommate. You contribute to each other’s albums. Did you enjoy working on Steve Lukather’s album and vice versa? Absolutely. I mean, first of all, it’s so easy to work with Steve. We work very, very well together. I feel very honoured to have been asked to be as involved as I was on his album. I co-wrote some stuff and sang some background vocals; and was able to be present during some of the recording, which was great. On my album, I wish I had more stuff for him to do; because the concept originally for my album was always going to be Mike Landau playing the guitar. Because with the original concept, we weren’t going to release our

I felt stiff after a year of not being on the road. You could see it. My voice was great, because I’ve been in the studio singing a lot, so my voice is in fabulous shape. It really does feel great, but physically, I just felt like I need a good month on the road to get back out. So, I felt a little bit of that. In terms of playing for no audience, that’s a little bit weird, but I can ham it up for an empty room. I don’t care. As you said, it was the first time that you guys have played together with the new line up. How did that feel to be playing those songs again, but with new people? Because this is the 15th lineup of Toto now... Well, it was great. I mean, it’s new, and it’s not. I mean, in 2018, Dave fell ill, and we got Dominique to cover him - so, he’s back. And so, it’s very much like it’s been for the last two years as far as that. And also, Warren Ham is back. He basically plays everything and sings great. So that continuity is there, so that’s good. Now the drummer and the bass player, that’s a huge difference. It’s just a very crisp, tight kind of feeling. It just feels refreshing and a little more youthful to me somehow. I mean, Sput is not a kid, but there’s something very youthful about him. He seems like he’s just having so much fun when he plays. He’s a showman. He’s a real artist of a drummer. Toto is one of those bands that every musician needs to be almost like a star. Do you have a favourite track in the Toto repertoire to perform live? It changes. My favourite of the big three hits to do live is probably “Rosanna”. Of this new cycle of stuff that we’re doing, I’m loving “You Are The Flower” from the first album. I freaking love that song so much, and it’s so much fun to sing. So right now, I’m going to pick that one. You and Steve have both got your respective solo albums out coming out. Are you going to incorporate tracks from those releases into the show also? The plan is to use our two albums as the new material. Usually, when we would come out for a new cycle with Toto, we would have either a new album or an EP or something, a single; something new to play or add to the set. In this case, it will be something from his solo album, something from my solo album, maybe one song or two songs each - I’m not sure. The live stream show was about 75 minutes. Our live show is about two hours and 10 minutes. So, there’s going to be a lot more deep cut Toto stuff and probably a couple of songs each from our solo albums.

‘Denizen Tenant’ by Joseph Williams is out now via The Players Club / Mascot Label Group.

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CICADASTONE “Covid bit and pushed the album release back a year. But like anything you care about, it just takes time to get things right”

Good Afternoon! Where do we find Cicadastone today? Hey mate..! You can find us hanging out in various parts of Melbourne. Usually, it’ll be somewhere with a bar!! Haha!! For the uninitiated, tell us a little history of the band… We formed in 2013. Put out our first album in 2016 just locally. We had a few lineup changes. In 2019 we signed to Golden Robot Records and have just released our new album called “Cold Chamber”. It’s been getting a good response, so now we are just gigging around town as much as we can. It took around 5 years following your debut to get Cold Chamber out there, was it a difficult album to make? Yes it was hard to make due to lineup changes. We actually recorded the drums for the whole album twice with different drummers. Then Covid bit and pushed the album release back a year. So it’s been a real journey. But like anything you care about, it just takes time to get things right. But the end result was worth the time and effort I think. Talk me through your song writing process - are you a band that takes its time to have the song ready to record or do you let the music evolve when you’re playing live? I’ll write a song and demo it pretty solidly. By the time we record for an album, it’s generally thought out. But there is always room for happy accidents. The studio is a place to create or experiment. So yes the demo is the blueprint but we always manage to squeeze more out for the final recording. It’s been a difficult year for most bands that were ready to put new music out into the world, how have you kept a presence and made sure

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Cold Chamber got the attention it deserves? We were fortunate to be sitting on an unreleased album at the beginning of the pandemic. Melbourne was probably the most locked-down city in the world in 2020, so we used that time to start releasing singles and videos and any online content we could including a mini-documentary. It worked out well for us ‘cause it kept us relevant in a time when bands couldn’t be active. None of us can predict when some sort of normality might return, but once it can, what plans do Cicadatone have for the future, could we see you here in the UK? We definitely wanna get overseas. Europe or America for sure. But until that happens, we will focus on interstate touring and promoting the album. We also plan to start recording the third album in July, as well as re-releasing our first album “Chance Collide” at the end of the year. So it’s busy times for us. Melbourne has a really cool rock scene, are there any local bands we should be looking out for? Yes we are lucky here In Melbourne. We have a thriving band scene. Bands like Riff Raiders, Chasing Lana, Acolyte, The Vendettas, Stonetrip, El Colosso are just a few. There are always new bands emerging and it’s great to see so much creativity. Great tips there – we will check them out! Thanks for catching up with me today, you get the last word...what’s it gonna be? Please get out and support your local live music scene. It’s so important right now as our industry globally has been hit hard. Buy merch at shows (when you can) and help spread the word about the band you like. It all helps! WORDS: JOHN ELLIS

ghosts of men

GHOSTS OF MEN “Ads was born in the wagon of a travelling show - I gave him a ride and a hot meal”

Good Afternoon, where do we find Ghosts of Men today, and has anything changed since Viki featured you in her Fresh Hell feature last time out? Bonjourno. How’s it going? We’ve been busy little ferrets, chasing up and down some musical rat holes, as well as doing a bit of the ol’ work. Trying not to get excited about this year in case it all goes ‘floof’ before our very eyes. For those that aren’t familiar with the band, tell us a little of your history… As everyone knows, Ads (drums) was born in the wagon of a travelling show his mama used to dance for the money they’d throw, his Papa would do whatever he could, preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good so he could buy some drums. Years later Clegg (me) (not drums) picked up Ads just south of Mersea, gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal, I was 35, he was 31. Rode with us to Colchester, and papa woulda shot him if he knew what he’d done. Okay…! Was it a conscious decision to be a two-piece, I’m curious if you wanted the challenge of being as heavy as you are in a minimalist kind of way or if there’s an obsession with technology and using effects, pedals and computers in clever ways? Being a two-piece was born of necessity. We did have a bass player, but he left, and we knew that we had some sort of thing going on, so we tried all sorts of stuff with the sound. It wasn’t until our deciding band practice that we found a light at the end of the tunnel, and our sound grew from there into the big fat lairy beast it is today. We use a combination of pitch shifters, big muffs, plasma pedals, splitters, bass emulators, We use two guitar amps and one bass amp. It’s important to us that what you get live, is as full as what you get on our recordings.

I really dig the single “Tell Me” - is it a good representation of what to expect from the upcoming album Exhale? I think so, maybe? There a few tracks on the album that people won’t expect from us, but then, if you know us, the unexpected is pretty much what you are going to get. I think we’re an oxymoron? Or one of those two things anyway. We like making high energy roof tearing music, it’s just what comes out. Did you find the writing process a challenge during the past year or were the songs on Exhale already written? Exhale is a combination of songs we were already playing, we decided to record them so they were all in one place ya know, and a week after we did that, Covvy D got really popular, so this brand new album we made, that we were ready to tour, had to just sit there - bubbling and crackling and popping in the corner. Worldwide situation permitting...what plans do you guys have for 2021? PLAY SHOWS. WATCH BANDS. HAVE GOOD TIMES! We are desperate to get back to it!!! We have got some shows already lined up for the rest of this year, we have our quietest rock album launch on May the 21st at Coda in Colchester, then we go BIG at Coda in July, we get to do a show with our mate Samantics at Gig in a Field 2.5 in Doncaster, We’re off to Derbyshire for Nah Then, back to Doncaster for Gig in a Field 3, then we are at a whacking great big rock and metal festival. Then off to Watchetlive in Somerset, Wrootstock in south Yorkshire, Bostin Days in the West Midlands, and we also get to play at HARD ROCK HELL 14 In Gt. Yarmouth in Norfolk in October. , and that’s just the gigs we have confirmed so far!! BUSAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!! We also have a Kickstarter presale running at the moment, so trying to keep on top of that as well. Tell us a little about the music scene where you are right now, are there any newer artists we should keep an eye out for? The music scene in East Anglia is pretty smart, sooooo very very diverse, there is a bit of something for everyone with some other bits chucked in between for good measure. Keep an eye out for The Meffs, and Pet Needs, both very very capable and easily able to rock the heck out of anywhere they are. Thanks for catching up with me today, dare I ask…any last words? Gypsies, tramps, and Ghosts of Men We’d hear it from the people of the town They’d call us gypsies, tramps, and Ghosts of Men But every night all the men would come around, And lay their money down. Which was odd for everyone involved. WORDS: JOHN ELLIS PHOTOGRAPHY: LISA LYDDON, LALA PHOTOGRAPHY

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E R O C D R A H K N PU “The hardcore scene is still very much alive and well with bands like Hatebreed, Refused and Pro-Pain”

Hi guys, I hope you are all keeping safe and well. Welcome to another ‘Redtank’s Guide To’. In the last couple of issues we have covered the brutality and heaviness of death metal, and the ferocity and intensity of grindcore - this time we are entering the world of possibly the first really extreme music genre and one that has had a massive influence on countless genres and shaping music as we know it. This is Redtank’s Guide to hardcore punk!

Vietnam war and looming threat of the cold war with The Soviet Union.

Without the influence of hardcore punk (from here on in referred to as just hardcore) we would not have thrash metal and definitely not grindcore as we know it. It’s generally defined as a subgenre of punk, but however true in some respects, hardcore has become much more than a splinter of the punk world. This aggressive, cultural, and expressive music has a style and presence all of its own.

Another aspect of the hardcore scene was the emergence of the ‘straight edge’ subculture sparked by Washington DC based band Minor Threat who, in a contrast to the heavy drinking and drug use within the punk scene, refrained from drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex. While seemingly harmless, the straight edge movement began to erupt into violence with militant straight edge groups assaulting ‘punks’ who drank or used drugs. This put a very negative light on the hardcore scene in cities across America.

The hardcore scene started in America in the late 1970s and is sometimes cited as a reaction to the monotony of the punk scene at that time. Punk is full of attitude, but I believe that hardcore was born out of frustration and anger at the social-political situation, and is an in-your-face expression of anger and rage. The sound of hardcore is built up of intense shouting and often chanting style vocals, distorted guitars that are quite melody driven and use the same melody scales as the vocalist, all backed up with rhythmic bass lines and an unrelenting aggressive drum style that is the ‘engine’ of the sound. Songwriting is generally straight to the point with short songs lasting often under a minute in length and with rhythmic verse and little or no repetition - don’t expect a sing-along chorus! Erupting out of New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC with bands like Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, and the highly influential Black Flag who were led by the force of nature that is Henry Rollins, lyrically focusing on themes like poverty, paranoia and neuroses as well as politics, hardcore was an expressive musical release for a country in turmoil, emerging from the aftermath of the

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There was also a very strong hardcore scene here in the U.K. as bands like Discharge, GBH, English Dogs and The Varukers led the way. U.K. hardcore was influenced by the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ bands, especially Motorhead with their heavily distorted guitars and heavy drumbeats.

As virtually none of the early hardcore bands were picked up by major record labels (Black Flag were briefly signed to MCA subsidiary label Unicorn Records but were dropped pretty quickly as label executives considered them to be ‘anti-parent’), this led to bands releasing their own records and was the birth of DIY releases. Another thing that was started by the early hardcore bands was the holding of all-ages gigs. They believed that people of all ages should have access to live music, regardless of whether they were old enough to drink alcohol or not. The hardcore scene spread all over the world and is still very much alive and well with plenty of newer bands like Hatebreed, Refused and Pro-Pain, who alongside the originals like Discharge and Agnostic Front, continue to release fantastic music. I discovered hardcore in the mid to late 1980s, I was getting into thrash metal and a friend loaned me a few albums by Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, MDC, Crumbsuckers and Agnostic Front and I fell in love

redtank’s guide to hardcore punk with them immediately. As hardcore is straight to the point, I will try and make my album reviews the same! The following albums are my favourites of the genre and as I always state… these are my personal choices, and I am in no way saying they are the ‘best’ albums. I decided not to include anything from Dead Kennedy’s, and I feel I should explain why. Their 1980 album ’Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’ is without question a seminal hardcore album and I think it is a masterpiece however I really struggled to pick the albums that I wanted to recommend and review, and as Dead Kennedy’s are so well known to the majority of you, I decided to go with albums that you may not have yet heard of or discovered. Here are my hardcore album recommendations and I hope you give them a listen and enjoy them! Minor Threat – Complete Discography (Dischord Records) 1989 I will start with the obvious issue… yes, this is a compilation album, but bear with me on this. Complete Discography was released by Minor Threat in 1989 and includes their first three Eps, the ‘Out of Step’ album, and tracks from the ‘Flex Your Head’ sampler compilation.

I could have gone with the brilliant ‘Out of Step’ album but in my opinion, the three EP’s ‘Minor Threat’, ‘In My Eyes’ and ‘Salad Days’ contain some of the bands finest work. Formed in 1980 by vocalist Ian MacKaye and drummer Jeff Nelson (who had played together in the Teen Idols) they then recruited guitarist Lyle Preslar and bassist Brian Baker. Being believers in the underground and independent scene and the DIY mentality, MacKaye and Nelson created Dischord Records and released all Minor Threat records through their own label. This is, in my humble opinion, the blueprint for the hardcore sound. Short songs that just slap you around the face, full of attitude and aggression. The band’s songs are also well layered, full of underlying melody and structural complexity. Ian MacKaye’s vocals are filled with emotion and clearly purvey the band’s anger and frustration. The track ‘In My Eyes’ is just hardcore perfection. From the first time I heard it, right up to listening to it at this moment while writing this article, it blows me away with how much power it has both musically and emotively. Look at the snapshot of lyrics below, a pure outlet of feeling and delivered with pure honesty. You tell me that nothing matters You’re just f*^king scared You tell me that I’m better You just hate yourself You tell me that you like her

You just wish you did You tell me that I make no difference At least I’m f*^king trying What the f^*k have you done? Minor Threat were only together for three short years, from 1980 to 1983, however, the band recently replicated an early band photograph and posted it on social media. Could there be a Minor Threat reunion? I can only hope… Black Flag – Damaged (SST Records) 1981 Along with Minor Threat, Black Flag can be credited with defining the sound of hardcore. ‘Damaged’ was the band’s debut album and released in late 1981. Despite being widely ignored by critics and the public at the time, it has since been recognised as one of the most influential punk records ever made and appeared in Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums Ever Made. This was singer Henry Rollins (a massive idol of mine!) first release with the band, as the previously released EP ‘Nervous Again’ featured Circle Jerks founding member Keith Morris. Surprisingly Rollins only contributed to the songwriting of one track on the album, his later spoken word work and solo work with The Rollins Band cemented his reputation as an incredibly talented wordsmith. Like Minor Threat, Black Flag took the ideals and sound of punk and added another level of anger, attitude and ferocity. ‘Damaged’ is fully deserving of its classic album status, opening with the legendary track ‘Rise Above’ - an anthemic call to the listener and a track that perfectly pulls you into the rest of the album.

Spanning just under 35 minutes and containing 15 tracks of sheer hardcore perfection ‘Damaged’ is one of those rare albums that demands to be listened to in its entirety, the sound is aggressive and dense with the unusual drum sound that was created by drummer Robo’s bracelet rattling every time the snare was hit. If you have not heard the album I implore you to give it a listen, if you know it, then why not listen to it again! Crumbsuckers – Life of Dreams (Combat Records) 1986 I should probably keep this to myself, but here goes. I have a list of live shows that I would go to should I ever have access to a time machine and one of those would definitely be my favourite hardcore band Crumbsuckers at the legendary CBGB’s club, New York back in 1985. Please don’t judge me too harshly, I would get around to ‘important’ time travel related activities as well! Formed in New York in 1982 by bass player Gary Meskil (who later formed Pro-Pain) Crumbsuckers are also classed as a ‘crossover’ band, said crossover being a mixture of hardcore and thrash metal (I will be

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redtanks guide to hardcore punk covering crossover in the next edition). While undeniably having been influenced by thrash and including guitar solos in their music, I personally class them as a straight-up hardcore act. With more of a solid sound than DIY bands like Minor Threat and with more riffs and time changes than other hardcore bands, Crumbsuckers still provide a full-on hardcore assault. ‘Life of Dreams’ is my all-time favourite hardcore album, with the driving drums and verse driven vocals delivered by the unique gravel voice of Chris Notaro and completed with Chuck Lenihan’s razor-sharp guitar playing. ‘Life of Dreams’ was the band’s debut album, recorded in Brooklyn, New York in 1985 and released in 1986 by Combat Records, consisting of 16 tracks with a running time of under 33 minutes and containing a mind-blowing 158 different riffs! If I was asked to define hardcore with just one song, I would say ‘Shits Creek’ with its melodydriven chanting vocals, which change pace perfectly throughout the track. The aggressive guitar sound and ferocious drumming on this track perfectly sum up the hardcore sound and style. Unfortunately, only two albums were released by the band, singer Chris Notaro left the band shortly after the release of their second album ‘Beat on my Back’ in 1988, and this was the beginning of the end for the band. I saw Crumbsuckers supporting Onslaught in 1988 at The Hummingbird, Birmingham but unfortunately, Notaro had left the band before the gig and vocals were performed by his replacement Joe Haggerty. I think Notaro’s distinctive voice was such a major part of their sound that they couldn’t carry on without him. If you haven’t heard them before, go check out the hidden gem that is Crumbsuckers. Circle Jerks – VI (Combat Records) 1987 There are always exceptions to a general theme. Most of death metal is written about gore and death, but Gojira write about environmentalism. Most thrash bands write about violence, Anthrax wrote about Judge Dredd and Stephen King novels (I am generalizing here!). Where the vast majority of hardcore has a social and politically charged theme, Circle Jerks brought some humour to the party. Many people will tell me that I am reviewing the wrong album here and I should be recommending the bands 1980 debut album ‘Group Sex’, and they are probably right! I agree that ‘Group Sex’ is undoubtedly one of the best hardcore albums ever made, however for me it was their 1987 album ‘VI’ that was my introduction to the band and also one of the first albums of the genre that I ever heard, and I can never forget that. Circle Jerks were formed by former Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris (later replaced by Henry Rollins) in 1979 and have released six studio albums, but it’s the hidden gem that is their fifth album ‘VI’ that had a massive impact on me. The album has a slower tempo than standard hardcore and is full of catchy hooks, the drumming is rhythmic and includes plenty of fills, and because of this it is widely not considered a hardcore album. I strongly disagree with that, Keith Morris’s raspy voice is pure hardcore. Opening with the joyous ‘Beat Me Senseless’ the album has an incredible feel and the unusually clean and polished production gives the songs a punch and life that works so well with the overall slower album tempo. The songwriting is very clever, humour filled with a serious undertone. ‘Patty’s Killing Mel’ is one of the highlights of the album and in parts it’s laugh out loud funny, but it has an underpinning theme about domestic violence. A lot of bands around this time were merging extreme music with funny/humorous lyrics and song themes, Lawnmower Deth being a prime example. The album also contains a raw cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’ which I absolutely adore. Poison Idea – Feel the Darkness (American Leather Recordings) 1990 Influenced by the down-tuned sound of bands like Discharge, Poison Idea are a powerhouse that produces a lo-fi hardcore fury. Their third album ‘Feel the Darkness’ is a full-frontal assault on the senses. This is furious hardcore that is also incredibly heavy, combining speed with crushing broken down riffs. ‘Feel the Darkness’ is the perfect gateway album for fans of heavy music to access the world of hardcore. Singer Jerry A. writes as he sees the world and to steal a quote ‘ A lyrical

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redtank’s guide to hardcore punk perspective that marries the likes of Godard, Bukowski, Manson, Darby Crash, and David Bowie—a world of self-aware junkies and drunks, the downtrodden and those gifted with a bullshit detector’ Guitarist Pig Champion creates a soundscape as aggressive and focusses as Jerry A’s lyrical views. ‘Feel the Darkness’ is a full realization of the promise and moments of perfection that stand out on the bands previous releases. The highlights are the controversial anti-police track ‘The Badge’ with its samples from the movie Taxi Driver, taking the hardcore template and adding an incredible depth and heaviness. As you come towards the end of the track, they throw in a groove-filled riff that just makes your jaw drop. My favourite track is the amazing ‘Alan’s on Fire’ a masterful piece of songwriting that shows how other musical influences can be incorporated into a style of music without taking any of the original essence away, on top of that the tempo and structure change at the end of the song gives me that special tingly feeling! If you like your thrash and death metal then this could be the hardcore album for you.

Terry ‘Tezz’ Roberts gives an added depth and intensity to the bands sound, and anyone who saw their performance at the HRH Punk festival in 2019 will agree they are a powerhouse! Vendetta – Vendetta UKHC (Casket) 2011 My last recommendation comes from the best hardcore band that I have discovered in recent years. From Peterborough, U.K. and formed in 1998, Vendetta are one of the top modern punk bands around today. Their 2011 self-titled album opens with the ‘It’s a depression’ speech from the 1976 movie Network, a speech that is scarily relevant to the world we are currently living in. The band combine traditional hardcore vocals with guttural screams and stop-start guitar riffs and it sounds incredible! Hardcore has always purveyed a message of unity, inclusion and anti-racism. The track ‘Skin’ is nothing short of a masterpiece with the repeated line ‘the colour of a man’s skin should make no difference like the colour of a man’s eyes’ and is a must-hear track not only for the hardcore fan but for everyone.

Discharge – End of Days (Nuclear Blast) 2016 While most of the credit regarding the origins of hardcore goes to the early American bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag, over here in Blighty there was also an erupting hardcore movement. As mentioned before the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement was in full swing in the late 1970s and it was impossible for that not to have some influence on the sound of those early British hardcore bands. Generally, the British hardcore bands had a more distorted and gritty sound and one of the bands leading the charge after their formation in Stoke -on Trent in 1977 were Discharge. I decided to recommend the bands 2016 album ‘End Of Days’ in place of the bands ground-breaking 1982 debut album ‘Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing’ (you should definitely check it out) as

Another standout track on the album is ‘UKHC’ a tribute to the United Kingdom hardcore scene. I am writing this article as we come towards the end of this lockdown and I am very hopeful that we can start seeing some real live music again sometime in the very near future, and one of the bands that I can’t wait to see live are the fantastic Vendetta. I am going to do something new with this guide and suggest ten tracks that I think would make a great introduction to the world of hardcore or be possible further listening to those familiar with it. I present…Redtank’s Recommended Introduction to Hardcore Playlist:

sometimes when a band that have been around for a long time release an album after a long quiet period (‘End of Days’ came out eight years after their previous album released in 2008) it can easily be overlooked. Recorded 34 years after their debut album ‘End of Days’ is absolutely brilliant, a full-on, full force album that pulls no punches. This is raw and brutal hardcore from the opening track ‘New World Order’ right through to ‘Accessories by Molotov – Pt. 2’ that closes the album - there is no let-up from the ferocity and intensity, laced with a sense of menace. This album is a statement, as if the band are saying we are still here, still relevant, and still angry!! This is the band’s first album with new singer Jeff ‘JJ’ Janiak who fits like a glove and his vocals perfectly suit the band. It is also the first album from the band as a five-piece, the addition of second guitarist

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Minor Threat – In My Eyes Black Flag – Rise Above Crumbsuckers – Shits Creek Poison Idea – Alan’s On Fire G.B.H. – Gunned Down Circle Jerks – Operation Vendetta – Skin Dead Kennedys – Stealing Peoples Mail Discharge – The Nightmare Continues Bad Brains – I Against I

Stay safe and well guys, hopefully see you at an HRH event in the very near future… Redtank OUT! WORDS: SIMON REDTANK

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reviews - blackberry smoke These Georgia boys know how to write love songs in their unique southern stylings, and that is certainly the case with the sweet country-rock song “Hey Delilah”. On the other hand, “Ain’t The Same” is a beautiful slice of Americana, with maybe undertones of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Starr’s warm, heartfelt vocals and slide guitar playing are of particular note. In the middle of the album, “Lonesome For A Livin’” is a traditional country number. The use of pedal steel guitar, in particular, helps to catalyse that authentic country sound. The song features a guest appearance by Jamey Johnson, whose impressive performance on this track alone is enough to make you want to do a deep dive into the country star’s discography.

BLACKBERRY SMOKE - YOU HEAR GEORGIA (3 Legged Records) Blackberry Smoke return with their hotly tipped seventh studio album, featuring ten new songs that pay homage to their home state, its musical legacy and their deeply embedded roots. For their latest offering, Blackberry Smoke teamed up with Grammy Award-winning American producer Dave Cobb. The band also welcome members of their touring band into the studio in the shape of Benji Shanks (additional guitars) and Preston Holcomb (percussion). Their forthcoming album follows chart-busting 2018 release ‘Find A Light’, which debuted at #12 on the Official UK Album Chart. The release also scaled to dizzy heights in the US, where it entered at #3 on the Billboard Country Album chart. But can the versatile Southern Rockers repeat the success of their last album? Most certainly yes! The opening track, “Live It Down”, is the perfect starting point for the release. With its funky groove, infectious melody and uplifting chorus, it certainly hits the spot. Whilst the title track itself is full of southern swagger - it’s a textbook Blackberry Smoke number. It’s of no surprise that the song is receiving frequent airplay on rock radio.

However, the centrepiece of the album comes in the form of “All Rise Again”. The song’s scorching slide guitar riffs and an appearance from Gov’t Mule/ Allman Brothers legend Warren Haynes make this incredible number one of the standout tracks on the album. In the final stages of the release, the twin part guitar harmonies of “Morningside” and the barnstorming “All Over The Road” have more fire and smoulder than a Georgia BBQ. That is until “Old Scarecrow”, with its poignant and poetic lyrics, bring the album to its close. Atlanta’s finest walk a fine line between country music and Americana along with a healthy dose of gold old fashioned Southern rock and roll music. With Blackberry Smoke’s latest release, they continue to lead the way as the current torchbearers of the genre down that now well-trodden path. Upon reflection, there is one way to describe ‘You Hear Georgia’, and that’s smoking!

Adam Kennedy

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reviews - rhabstallion / god is an astronaught pretty much like I was expecting, it could have been released in 1981 rather than 2021 but is that such a bad thing? This is an album that takes a very well-known and wellloved genre and gives it a bit of spit and polish to bring it into the modern age. There are definite Saxon-ish overtones in the triple-guitar riffage and the in-yer-face vocal style, but if that’s what you like you’ll love this band.

RHABSTALLION - BACK IN THE SADDLE (ZYX / Golden Core Label) Here you go Jo they said. You’re probably old enough to appreciate this one, they’re an original NWOBHM band who have reformed and put out some new material 40 years on. Ok I said, you’re on…. Are You Ready To Mock? I was ready to be sarcastic, I had my Big Book Of Rock Cliches open at a random page and I was sharpening the Bitch Pencil. But you know what? Here I am now, eating my words. I actually really like this album. It might sound

The album opens with the driving beat of “Never Say Never” and it seems to me that this perfectly encapsulates Rhabstallion’s attitude. They teetered on the edge of a breakthrough in the early ‘80s, they went their separate ways, but somehow over the years a tiny spark remained and now they are on fire again. They skirt the edge of balladry with “Nowhere Left To Fall”, they have a proper rock out during “Hard Luck Man” and they even tease with a nod to funk on “Nellie Bly” The whole album has just enough sameness to fit the genre and just enough difference to keep you interested. It’s a fine line but Rhabstallion manage to balance it perfectly. I’ve been trying to pick a standout song to recommend for you and you know what? I don’t think there is one. They are all strong, there’s no filler here. There’s a couple though that I would very much like to hear live. I’d be in a field, holding a very cold pint of cider and wearing my old denim cutoff with the patches and the embroidery. It’s that kind of vibe. See ya there? Jo Crosby three years after their epic 2018 album ‘Epitaph’. Although it feels less atmospheric than some of the bands previous releases, ‘Ghost Tapes #10’ has an intensity that is utterly captivating. This is an album that demands to be listened to and experienced in its entirety, from the surprisingly heavy opening of ‘Adrift’ through to the majestic beauty of ‘Luminous Waves’, that closes the album with a calmness that penetrates right to your soul. The musicianship is flawless, Torsten Kinsella’s guitar playing is just incredible. The tracks ebb and flow between complex guitar driven highs and piano orchestrated lows, keeping the listener gripped from the first to last note.

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT - GHOST TAPES #10 (Napalm) I first discovered Ireland’s God Is An Astronaut with the 2006 ‘Moment of Stillness’ EP and I was completely blown away by their post-rock, experimental, instrumental music. Their latest album ‘Ghost Tapes #10’ is stunning. This album had a very tough act to follow coming only

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‘In Flux’ is an astonishing piece of music, so complex and multi layered and for me is the highlight of a near perfect album. Mid-album tracks ‘Spectres’ and ‘Fade’ have real pace and ferocity; the basslines and drum track are so intense, yet constantly changing direction without making the overall track sound in any way disjointed. This is, in my humble opinion, some of the bands best work and a definitive highlight of their twenty-year career. The song writing and musicianship are nothing short of world class. Set yourself an hour of your time aside, put on some headphones and experience this album, this is truly headphone music at its best! You can thank me later… Si Redtank

reviews - michael schenker Lynn Turner, Michael Voss, Robin McAuley and old favourite Doogie White and you have some amazing singers to belt out the songs. The album has a great mix of tracks on there – some at breakneck speed, some more mellow, and some a mix of both! Opener and initial single, “Drilled To Kill”, throws you in at the deep end with a thumping, rapid, drum beat and some amazing vocals from Ronnie Romero. Schenker’s guitar licks sew it together as always, and there is some great playing here.


The man needs no introduction – but I will do one anyway, because he deserves it! Michael Schenker has been in the business of making amazing rock music for 50 years - The Scorpions, UFO, The Michael Schenker Group, Temple of Rock, and Michael Schenker Fest to name but a few incarnations of the great man and his music. Now for his 50th anniversary, Michael has returned with MSG and given us a new album - and he is showing no signs of giving up any time soon. Is he just blowing his own trumpet – or should I say playing his own Flying V - by calling it “Immortal”? I don’t think so! Michael has gathered together an amazing team of musicians and singers for this album, and it gives him possibly the strongest group yet. Bass player Barry Sparks (Dokken), keyboard player Steve Mann as well as the three drummers Bodo Schopf, Simon Phillips (ex-Toto) and Brian Tichy (ex-Whitesnake), and keyboard wizard extraordinaire Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion) alongside the man with the axe make for a great sound. Then add in a multitude of vocalists including Ronnie Romero, Ralf Scheepers, Joe

The other singles are all here of course – “After The Rain”, “Sail The Darkness”, and the re-working of “In Search of The Peace Of Mind”. This closes the album, and was the first song that Schenker wrote, at the age of 15, in his mother’s kitchen. It went on to be the first song he recorded with The Scorpions, appearing on their debut album “Lonesome Crow” in 1972. It has been re-recorded here and is an amazing version, featuring vocals by Gary Barden, Ronnie Romero, Robin McAuley and Doogie White and a killer new solo by Schenker. As he says himself, “When I listen to this new solo it is like I was expressing my whole 50-years journey. Just as I don’t know where the original lead break came from 50 years ago, now I don’t know how this answering music was created. To me, it is all perfect.” Inbetween the singles we find a great selection of tracks, including stand-outs ”Devil’s Daughter” and “Knight Of The Dead”, making this what for me is possibly the best MSG album since 1982’s “Assault Attack”. Michael says of making the album “I was the only one who had to take four eight-hour boat trips from England to Holland, and from there I drove to Germany to reach the recording studio during lockdown. I did it even though it meant going into quarantine for two weeks every single time. Nothing I can recommend,” he explains, “but it was absolutely essential and unavoidable so we could finish the album”. Well, I can only say that the sacrifice was most definitely worth it. Doug Bearne

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reviews - OF MICe and men / foreignwolf / sons of liberty / illuminae

FOREIGNWOLF YOUR WEAPONS, YOUR WORDS (Self Release) Irish alt-rockers ForeignWolf get up close and personal with their new EP: Your Weapons, Your Words. Four riff-packed tracks detailing the band’s experiences over lockdown begin with their latest single, Alone, evoking the likes of Breaking Benjamin and Chevelle with its hooks and harmonies. Up tempo Afterthought is very much more than its namesake with punchy riffs, anthemic choruses and thoughtful guitar solo. Instrumental opening No Limit balances deep bass grooves and staccato guitars with earnest and inspirational vocals from frontman Gerard McCan and finally, closer Gradual Destruction slows everything down with pared-down guitars, drums and bass riffs that are reminiscent of Dirtera Alice In Chains. Definitely a band to catch as venues open up again.

SONS OF LIBERTY ACES AND EIGHTS (Self Release) Southern-fried Brit-rockers Sons of Liberty play their cards right with their sophomore album ‘Aces and Eights’. The band raise the stakes with their explosive opener, “Ruby Starr”. With its catchy hooks and scorching riffs, this song is no messing rock and roll at its best. Furthermore, the foot-stomping sounds of “Beef Jerky Boogie” and the topical drinking song “Whiskey Is My Vaccine” illustrate the band’s sense of humour, with some witty, tongue in cheek lyricism. But there is more to the Sons of Liberty than hard rocking anthems. The band play the hand they are dealt with bourbon-soaked ballads such as “Black Blizzard” and “I Come In Peace”. Each of which they perform with authority and conviction. Sons of Liberty double down with southern rocker “Texas Hill Country” and stand out track “Damaged Reputation”. Whilst “Dead Man’s Hand” cleverly ties the album together. With ‘Aces and Eights’, Sons of Liberty have most certainly hit the jackpot; there are no signs of second album syndrome here. Adam Kennedy

ILLUMINAE DARK HORIZONS (Immrama) Illuminae is a new project featuring the combined talents of Karnataka’s Ian Jones and vocalist Agnieszka Swita, plus a raft of the great and the good and even the legendary from the world of progressive rock – with Steve Hackett falling into the latter category! The Yes legend provides solos on the opening track The Lighthouse, which sets the scene for my favourite track on the album, the incredibly catchy Blood on Your Hands. Initially the album treads a familiar path, but as Dark Horizons progresses we hear more and more touches that take the music to new places that keep the listener gripped, while always retaining the atmosphere set by the superb arrangements and songwriting, with Edge of Darkness, Heretics & Prophecy and the title track being good examples. This is a gripping debut release, and the duo reveal elsewhere in this issue that they have plans to tour their music, with work on the follow-up to Dark Horizons already well underway. We can’t wait for both! Toby Winch releasing a trio of EPs with their new label SharpTone Records. Why not an album? This way, they get the music to the fans faster. Forced apart by circumstance, the first one, aptly named ‘Timeless’ allowed band members to contribute from far and wide into a steady and seamless integration. Tight in its prose, and healthy in its metalcore roots, the three hard-hitting songs give fans a treat of throttling guitars, hard hitting drums, & a lively vocal performance by Aaron Pauley. Title track ‘Timeless’ lures us in with its transcendent and ambient beats, before pulverizing us with a wave of energy dominated by the allure of drums and ample guitar. Then it takes us back to the ambience to let us regain our composure, until of course it hits again like riding a euphoric roller coaster ride. ‘Obsolete’ encourages the growling prowess of Pauley. The ferocity in his voice alone demands omnipresence, but the full Californian outfit supports the almighty powerful beast. This tightly polished track encapsulates all the combined power of a hurricane as Pauley thrashes out lyrics ‘Become Obsolete!’ Final track ‘Anchor’ delivers a solid ending to the trilogy. Full of layers, it bestows a rock-type edge that showcases the diverse abilities of the band to mix genres & pay homage to rock gods before them. ‘Timeless’ stays true to the core for their dedicated fanbase, but more importantly acts as a gateway for new fans into Of Mice and Men world. I look forward to the next EP installments, and wonder where the journey will take me? Hopefully out of the house and into an Of Mice and Men live gig in the not too distant future! Michelle Evans

Simon ‘Spindles’ Potthast

OF MICE AND MEN - TIMELESS EP (SharpTone) Of Mice and Men take on the challenge of a world-wide pandemic by

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reviews - DORJA / ethyrFIeld current incarnation, it feels like they have now found themselves and their definitive line-up. There is a coherent flow to the EP from the start. The title track itself creates a somewhat atmospheric, almost ethereal opening to the release. The song has a bit of an eastern twang with moody guitar parts and instrumentation. The beauty of this EP is that each number showcases a different side of the band’s repertoire. The second track on the release is probably one the heaviest songs we’ve heard from Dorja to date, with its big riffs, thunderous beat and Almas’ spellbinding vocal. The song certainly packs a punch. “Ghost Town” may also be the name of a track by The Specials, but this is no cover song – and the title feels pertinent in the strange times we are living. The song is a little slower than the previous number. It’s dreamy in places, with a stunning breakdown, the twin part guitar harmonies in the latter stages of the song are of particular note. Throughout the EP, you can hear the evolution of the Dorja sound which is particularly the case with “Barely Heaven”. The song’s heavy groove and short sharp guitar riffs make it stand out from the crowd. Dorja quickly switch gears with almost every track on the EP. The final song of the release, “Dust”, is a bit on the slower side, but it allows Aiym Almas’ to truly showcase her impressive vocal range.

DORJA - PERSEPHONE (Self Release) Dorja are a band that has witnessed a lot of personnel changes since their formation back in 2016. However, based upon the band’s latest release and

With ‘Persephone’, Dorja have really come into their own and have put forward their best release to date.

Adam Kennedy

collection of tracks for 2021. And more the power to them for doing that. “In Delirium” is a flowing work of 9 tracks that are an evolution of the Ethyrfield sound from the first 2 EPs. A myriad of classic and modern influences such as Rush, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater may sound daunting for a casual listener expecting goodtime slick rock’n’roll – but there’s nothing to fear. We may not have tracks as “angry” as 2017’s Show Me God or as immediately accessible as 2019’s Ignitor, and we do have a very proggy almost jazz guitar solo in the title track, but you have three songs to tune in your cultured ears and immerse yourself in the majesty that is Ethyrfield’s first long-player before they throw that curveball in, by which time the genius of the songwriting had given them almost free reign to try anything. I must admit I was perhaps expecting a few more easter-eggs like that solo, but maybe that’s just me wanting them to throw everything including the kitchen sink into this release. It must be remembered this is their first album! In Delirium begins with an almost ‘70s Jethro Tull vibe with the acoustic opening of the beautiful first-cut River. The track is a statement of intent with stunning vocal harmonies and resists the urge to “get heavy”, instead adding orchestral strings, with the overall structure a little reminiscent of 2112 era Rush.. Each listen reveals more layers and hints at the evolution and musical journey the band are embarking on. As if invoking legends Rush and Tull wasn’t enough, Ethyrfield then deliver the uppercut of adding a Soundgarden tinge to Sunstroke and The Hunter, while keeping the amazing vocals found in the opening track.

ETHYRFIELD - IN DELIRIUM (Self Release) Live, this young trio are in the “goosebump” category and have been top of my ones-to-watch list for a long while and I can’t see them stepping aside any time soon. It was an absolute honour to have the lads play at my 50th birthday bash, and finally best of all to get the lads in front of the HRH family at Great Yarmouth in 2019, and they didn’t disappoint with many present asking the satisfying question “Wow – who were those guys?!”. BUT…this isn’t about how damn good Ethyrfield are live, this is about how good they are recorded for our repeated listening pleasure at home, in our cars, on our daily walk or on the radio. The band’s first releases, the incredible self-titled debut EP from 2017 and 2019’s follow up EP Taurus, are both in their own right stunning pieces of work. They could easily have taken the easy route – put the 2 EPs together, added a couple of extra track and boom – there’s the first album. But these guys don’t do things the easy way and have put together a completely fresh

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The title track is a glorious nod to a more free rock world with the aforementioned guitar solo being a brave and ultimately successful foray into an unexpected genre. Overgrown is possibly the most obvious nod to any particular band, but The Jar Of Flies era Alice in Chains beginning still manages to veer off into what is becoming signature Ethyrfield territory. Just as you think the lads surely can’t have anything more to give, Serenity blows your mind with its majesty, including some subtle but cool keyboard work and more of the lush vocals that are a trademark of this album and indeed of Ethyrfield. The production work on In Delirium is second-to-none and references the deep rumble of Shepherd, the top end of Thayil, and the acoustic wonder of Cantrell. If you wanted to hear what progressive Soundgarden / Alice in Chains style grunge would sound like in the modern age, this album is the answer – but crucially, it is so much more. Please don’t go just by these waymarkers, they are just this old rocker’s reference points that have allowed me an entry ticket to the incredible world of Ethyrfield. It’s time to get yours, but be prepared to never leave. Toby Winch

reviews - unknown refuge / steve lukather these guys were, and secondly, the fact that they looked only just of an age legally enabling them to be in the venue! I was, I can tell you now, very impressed. Having listened to this, their self-produced debut album, it seems my first impression was the right one Although they are still very young, the three members Alex (bass/ vocals), Jack (guitar), and Morgan (drums), have been playing together for a number of years, and that familiarity shows in the quality of their playing and the understanding they seem to have between themselves. They cite Metallica, Black Stone Cherry, Avenged Sevenfold, and the one I felt they were closest to, Alter Bridge, as the primary influences for their music. As with most good bands, the trick is to take the best of what you like and then mould it into your musical shape, this they do very well on the album.

UNKNOWN REFUGE - FROM THE DARKNESS (Self Release) The first time I became aware of Unknown Refuge was when, in the days before the world changed, I saw them supporting Sons of Liberty at a gig in Wigan - not far from their home town of Bolton, both in the County of Lancashire. Two things struck me, firstly just how accomplished and stage-wise

‘From the Darkness’ opens with the title track, which is a minutelong intro for ‘To the Light’, an absolute banger, hard melodic rock with a killer riff, you really couldn’t ask for more. The whole album is in this vein, intricate guitar solos scattered throughout, choruses that sit in your head and lyrics that are worth taking the time to listen to. If there is a weak spot it would have to be the penultimate track ‘I’m Not a Bad Guy’, which seems to be explicit for no other reason than it can be. On the other hand, ‘Battle Hymn’, ‘Shadows’, ‘If the Gods Be Good’ and the epic ‘Journey’ all deserve your full attention. This isn’t the first debut album of 2021, but it’s head and shoulders above any others I have heard this year.

Martin Short

Lukather’s esteemed friends and colleagues. This includes the likes of drummer Greg Bissonette, keyboardist Jeff Babko, along with bassists Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce - whilst the Toto connection prevails with appearances by both band-mate David Paich who performs piano and organ across the album, and the previously mentioned Joseph Williams. The opening song “Along For The Ride” starts with an intricate and somewhat infectious opening riff. Simultaneously, the number highlights Lukather’s virtuoso playing, flair and skill, as well as being a real earworm to boot. Lukather changes gear with “Serpent Soul”, which has a more blues-based groove. Whilst the addition of honky-tonk piano adds texture to the number. When it comes to guitar epics, it doesn’t get any better than “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”. The ten-minute Traffic cover is full of emotive playing and packed with many layers which are progressively unveiled to the listener. On the other hand, “Journey Through” is a real gem for fans of the Toto axeman. It’s an instrumental piece full of expressive playing; Lukather quite literally makes his guitar sing like a bird with his phrasing.

STEVE LUKATHER - I FOUND THE SUN AGAIN (Mascot) Steve Lukather returns with his first solo album in 8 years. The album also coincides with the release of Toto frontman Joseph William’s solo album, but there is no rivalry in this camp. Both artists feature on one another’s respective solo records. Co-produced by Ken Freeman, who also both engineered and mixed the album, the artists featured on the record include a whole raft of Steve

Lukather plays in the Ringo Starr All-Star Band, and the track “Run To Me” was written to celebrate the legendary drummer’s birthday. The Beatles’ sticks-man also happens to feature on the track; which has a warm feel akin to that of ‘The Fab Four’ themselves. The final track on the album is a cover of the Robin Trower number “Bridge of Sighs”, during which Lukather truly put his stamp on this timeless blues/rock classic, to great effect. ‘I Found The Sun Again’ allows Lukather to showcase his chops as well as his versatility. It covers a vast musical spectrum whilst also illustrating why so many regard Steve Lukather as one of the best guitarists in the business. And rightly so. Adam Kennedy

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reviews - the crown / the outlaw orchestra / black pistol FIRe / the bad day blues band




The Outlaw Orchestra have every right to be a little wary when waiting for the reviews of their latest offering, their debut was THAT good. Fortunately, Powercut is yet another lovely offering from the boys. They’ve not been without their own troubles since that debut album but they’ve taken it all on the chin and produced an 8 track short LP/EP of new cuts and reworked old favourites. It works and to these old ears, it is pure bliss. The old songs sound fresh and the new songs feel like old favourites already. To breathe new life into fan favourites and put them alongside brand new music so seamlessly is the mark of accomplished well-seasoned pros and I guess that’s what they are now. New songs have a more mature edge to them on this little slice of country-rock heaven but there’s still a glint in the eye, the divil is still there and thank goodness for that. Make your life a little better and get hold of Powercut, it’s good for what ails ya in these very strange times.

Some bands make the mistake of trying to repeat the same formula over and over again, while some musicians need the creative freedom to push their boundaries and channel different energies - and that’s what Black Pistol Fire has done with ‘Look Alive’.

Swagger Blues has finally arrived and The Bad Day Blues Band are bringing that to a pair of lugholes near you with their new album Table By The Wall. If you love your blues with a bit of pep and…swagger…then this is the band and the album for you.

The raw groove of “Pick Your Poison”, the mosh pit inducing “Holdin Up,” and the thunderous sounds of “Black Halo” perfectly encapsulates what the band are about.

This is blues that defies you to sit still. This is blues that not only gets your mojo working but it drags it onto the dancefloor and forces you to get ya groove on.

On the other hand, the soulful title track, “Never Enough” and “Temper Temper” showcases a contemporary sound that blurs the lines of genres whilst simultaneously staying true to their blues/rock roots.

There is great guitar here, as you’d expect from any rhythm and blues band. There’s a cracking rhythm section, again, as you’d expect and to top it all off there is a superb vocal with a side order of outstanding gob iron.

The question is – does the dynamic duo’s new sound hit the mark? Most definitely! With ‘Look Alive’, the Black Pistol boys are most certainly firing on all cylinders.

“Everybody needs somebody to love” so the song says…I agree with that.

Steve Beastie

Adam Kennedy

Steve Beastie

But everybody ALSO needs some swagger blues in their life right now, so start right here!

following on from 2018’s Cobra Speed Venom. That album was a pure master class in thrashy Swedish death metal and there’s more of the same on offer over the ten tracks here. ‘Baptized In Violence’ comes crashing out of the blocks at 300mph and at only a minute and a quarter long you may be forgiven for thinking at first sight that it’s going to be one of those moody instrumental intro type things. Instead it catches you unawares and showcases just how ferocious they can be given half the chance. This leads straight into the early album highlight ‘Let The Hammering Begin!’, barely giving the listener time to catch their breath, it’s another huge assault on the senses until the mid-section when they unleash one hell of an unholy riff designed to lay waste to mosh pits the world over - think ‘Angel Of Death’ for the modern era. It’s one of the most valuable weapons in their arsenal, peeling off chuggy yet catchy riffs in the middle of a death metal maelstrom with seemingly no effort at all. It’s also a testament to their 30 plus year career (including 8 years when they were known as Crown Of Thorns) that their output is still so strong where some of their peers may be applying the brakes a little. In-between the frenetic riffing and blast beats, there are some slower stompers on offer - ‘Glorious Hades’ conjures up elements of slower Nile yet retaining some more melodic moments and ‘Devoid Of Light’ has a Domination-era flavour of Morbid Angel.


Needless to say, if you’re a fan of excellently produced death metal that doesn’t muck about, the Royal Destroyer may be a contender for album of the year.

Remarkably, this is Swedish outfit The Crown’s 11th full-length album,

Neil ‘Not’ Coggins

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reviews - ALIce cooper Kramer and Farner play guitar on an awesome cover of MC5’s “Sister Anne”, as well as appearing on other tracks including the newly written old-school style garage rocker that is “Hail Mary”. Kramer also lends his writing skills on “Go Man Go” - another garage-style track that also features Farner. These aren’t the only guests on the album though. Joe Bonamassa joins on guitar for “Our Love Will Change The World” and the aforementioned “Rock & Roll”, which as the opening track sets out Cooper’s stall for the whole album.

ALICE COOPER – DETROIT STORIES (EarMUSIC) The Godfather of shock rock has released his 28th studio album (officially his 21st “solo” one!) and it features songs tied into his beloved birth town. “Detroit Stories” is all about the rock that has come from the music city – it’s not only the home to Motown and the US car industry! Now at 73 years old, Alice is still not scared to rattle the tree, and does so here in his usual “I don’t care” fashion. Never being one to hold back on letting his feelings be heard, you are never sure what you are going to get with an Alice Cooper album – apart from the fact it will be great - and fun. Detroit Stories is certainly no exception. The album is a mix of covers of songs from Detroit’s glory days of rock in the sixties and seventies alongside some great new tracks that celebrate the city and the time. Several guests from the era show up to help out, including Wayne Kramer of MC5, Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, as well as Detroit members - guitarist Steve Hunter and drummer Johnny ‘Bee’ Badanjek – with both appearing on an inspired cover of Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll”, which was also covered by them back in the day.

Backing vocals on the tonguein-cheek “$1000 High Heel Shoes” are provided by Sister Sledge. Not content with that, he also enlists the help of his wife Sheryl and daughter Calico on a cover of Bob Seger’s “East Side Story” and also on “Our Love Will Change The World” – perhaps the nearest to a love song you will find on the album! Perhaps the cheekiest of guest spots is reserved for “Shut up And Rock” – a song which seems to be aimed at the stars of the music industry who use their positions for other purposes, and take themselves too seriously - featuring on drums none other than Larry Mullen JR of U2. Oh what must it be like to have all these people in your little black book – but in place throughout the album are the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper Band – who take great joy in declaring their love for each other in the hilarious ”I Hate You”. All said and done, this is a great album, full of fantastic tracks that remind you of the time, while still being fresh and in Cooper’s usual style. He and producer Bob Ezrin are on target again.

Doug Bearne page 77

reviews - CANNIBAL CORPSe for the rest of the album, with a sharp mixing job courtesy of Rutan bringing to the fore the full power of the Corpse. Tempo wise there is a mix of everything on offer here: ‘Inhumane Harvest’ showcasing some skull crushingly heavy, chugging riffage through to groovy stompers like ‘Surround, Kill, Devour’ and neck-whipping thrashers like ‘Overtorture’ and ‘Necrogenic Resurrection’. There is a good variety on display throughout the album to keep both the casual listener and die-hard fan interested, and enough catchy riffs on show to reward multiple listenings.

CANNIBAL CORPSE VIOLENCE UNIMAGINED (Metal Blade) Hard to believe that a little over 32 years ago, Cannibal Corpse burst out of the Buffalo, NY scene and turned death metal on its head. 15 albums later, and over 2 million record sales, the world’s biggest-selling death metal band are back with their latest opus and luckily for fans, this is pure Cannibal Corpse from beginning to end. After twiddling the knobs on 2017’s Red Before Black, Hate Eternal six-string master Erik Rutan is now a full-time member of the band following Pat O’Brien’s episode a few years ago that saw his arrest and currently, thankfully, the help he needs. Rutan’s addition to the band has brought additional layers to their trademark bludgeonous sound and even wrote 2 of the tracks on offer here. ‘Murderous Rampage’ opens the album and doesn’t mess about - frenetic riffing over Paul Mazurkiewicz’s inhuman drumming sets the tone

There are no complex epics here, just headsdown no compromise death metal in true Corpse style. In an age where the younger bands favour technicality and precision over power and actual songwriting, Violence Unimagined is not only another welcome addition to the extensive Cannibal Corpse back catalogue, it’s also a breath of fresh air in what can be a somewhat stagnant scene. The days of producing tracks with ludicrous song titles may be behind them but with tracks like ‘Slowly Sawn’ it’s clear they haven’t strayed too far from their gore obsessed outlook but musically they’ve certainly grown up enough to produce some great death metal that will certainly feature in a lot of ‘Best of 2021’ lists come the end of the year. Prepare to get your faces hammer smashed all over again!

Neil ‘Not’ Coggins page 79

reviews - heavy feather / lifesigns / dewolff / joanna connor




We’ve waited a long time for the new music from Lifesigns: It’s finally here, so how does it stack up? It stacks up very well indeed thank you kindly; What Lifesigns have created here is a serious contender for album of the year, even at this early stage. This album epitomises all that is glorious about Prog without any pretension or pompousness, it’s prog magic.

When you hear the term “Wolffpack”, you immediately think of the reprobates from the ‘Hangover’ movies. However, it also happens to be the name of the latest album from Dutch retro rockers DeWolff.

For this release, Joanna Connor puts her stamp on an astounding collection of blues classics and deep cuts from some of the legends of the genre.

From the moment it starts with the epic title track to it closing with the reprise of the same track, you not only know you are in the hands of seasoned masters but the warmth of a love you’ve missed. It’s not all drawn out epics either, with radio-friendly and sing-along-able ‘Gregarious’ they should have a catchy as chuff sure-fire hit.

The beauty of DeWolff’s latest offering is that it not only takes inspiration from Sixties and Seventies rock bands, but their music and production have an authenticity to them that you don’t often find elsewhere. “Treasure City Moonchild”, “Roll Up The Rise,” and “Lady J” being testament to this, whilst the funky groove of “Yes You Do”, the scorching riffs and pounding keys of “Bona Fide” and mind-bending closer “Hope Train” take the listener on a pleasurable, psychedelic Magical Mystery Tour.

During an emotive take on Luther Allison’s “Bad News” Joanna pays homage to an artist near and dear to her heart. Connor serves up a scorching slice of Chicago Blues by way of Magic Sam’s “I Feel So Good”. Whilst thunderous opener ‘Destination’ leaves the listener begging more. In summary - what do you get when you take one of Chicago’s finest blues/slide guitarists, send them out to Nashville, and team them up with Josh Smith, Joe Bonamassa and company under his new ‘Keeping The Blues Alive’ imprint?

During these difficult times, we all need a little extra love, Lifesigns have delivered a huge hug to everyone right on cue.

Are you ready to join the Wolffpack? We most definitely are.

The answer is arguably the best blues album to hit the streets so far in 2021.

Steve Beastie

Adam Kennedy

Adam Kennedy over like a modern-day Blue Cheer crossed with the quirkiness of Monster Magnet, the album begins with the stoner rock of ‘30 Days’. Dynamics stomp like Godzilla on a bad day as bass guitar from Morgan Korsmoe shake the foundations. bullish guitar riffing from Matte Gustafsson is pinned down by the powerhouse drumming of Ola Goransson and the delightfully howled lead vocals of Lisa Lystam. It ends on tribal beats and strong backing vocals. Bass guitar runs riot throughout ‘Bright In My Mind’ as guitar weaves around its thunder as vocals light the fuse with long notes ending on a spacey guitar solo. ‘Love Will Come Easy’ is crunchy, heavy blues peppered with southern rock guitar touches and a sultry vocal adds a passionate smoulder. Title track ‘Mountain Of Sugar’ has catchy but still brick heavy grooves that gallop along on an all-consuming pummel offset by bursts of harmonica. Earthmoving drum patterns propel ‘Too Many Times’ along that hold the fort as raucous riffing and raunchy vocals impress. A moment of calm comes from the soul searching balladry of ‘Let It Shine’, a song of dazzling beauty. ‘Come We Can Go’ screams “more cowbell”. It’s all rabid rabble-rousing rock and roll with helium fuelled vocals. ‘Sometimes I Feel’ is another tearjerker as aching vocals and piercing guitar lines set the scene for some foot-tapping rhythms as orchestral strings precede a laid back guitar solo.

HEAVY FEATHER - MOUNTAIN OF SUGAR (The Sign) Since forming in Stockholm, Sweden in 2017, Heavy Feather have tapped into a strong vein of songwriting as they follow up their 2019 debut album Debris and Rubble with the 2021 release Mountain Of Sugar. Coming

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‘Lovely Lovely Lovely’ is summed up by its title for some sleazy soul and air guitars are a must for the fretboard burning outro. Choral like vocals in ‘Rubble’ are backed by inventive drum patterns and some of the grooves brought to mind ‘Space Truckin’ by Deep Purple. This fiery album ends all too soon as ‘Asking In Need’ is another beautiful ballad. Angelic vocals fly skywards backed by touches of piano and a skin shivering guitar solo. Dennis jarman

reviews - the damn truth / JUSTIN LARNeR / amigo the devil / CICADASTONe album from fellow Canadian’s The Damn Truth, he knew that he was onto something special. And having listened to the album in question, we would certainly agree. When you listen to an album, you tend to gravitate towards the few standout songs on the release. The difference with ‘Now or Nowhere’ is that there isn’t just one or two standout tracks; the whole release is top to bottom quality. Now you might find that hard to believe – but trust me, I’m telling you the truth. The Damn Truth! The first time I heard this album, I must have listened to it back-to-back consecutively five or six times. It’s all killer and no filler. The Damn Truth has got more catchy hooks than a fishing tackle shop. What sets this band apart from their peers is their anthemic choruses, plus the consistent quality of their material. Couple that with the band’s unstoppable groove and fuzzy retro guitar riffs, and the result is classic rock heaven. Lead vocalist Lee-la Baum delivers each song with such passion and intensity. Think Janis Joplin meets Beth Hart, and you are in the right ballpark. The band’s fearless frontwoman also has an impressive vocal range to boot. The Damn Truth’s explosive first single from the forthcoming album “This Is Who We Are Now” has been receiving large amounts of airplay on rock radio, and deservedly so. Whilst “Look Innocent” feels like it will be a crowd-pleaser when performed live due to its sing-along chorus.

THE DAMN TRUTH - NOW OR NOWHERE (Spectra Musique) Let’s cut to the chase - when you see the name Bob Rock attached to an album, you know it’s worth checking out. He is the man who produced classics such as Metallica’s ‘Black Album’, The Cult’s ‘Sonic Temple’ and Motley Crue’s ‘Dr Feelgood’, to name but a few. His talent and skill as a producer are unquestionable. So, when Mr Rock took up the task of producing the latest

JUSTIN LARNER HOT AND DANGEROUS (Self Release) Justin Larner was the guitarist with the nowdefunct Grand Ultra, a band from the East Midlands who were making waves in 2017 with their first full-length release “Here We Are” - but sadly things didn’t progress. Grand Ultra vocalist Joe Hill, features on ‘Take Me Away’, ’Let Me Go’, ‘Alive’ and ‘Oblivion’ which were going to be on the follow-up album that never happened. Other vocalists used are former Iconic Eye frontwoman Jane Gould who lends her considerable talents to ‘Find Your Way Home’ and ‘Best Laid Plans’. Elisha Martin leads on all the other tracks except the title track, ‘Hot and Dangerous’, which features Johnny Sparks, frontman for sleaze rockers Lovebite. The album concludes, as of course it should, with an instrumental ‘Losin’ It’ which showcases Justin Larners’ immense talent as a guitarist. This is one you shouldn’t miss. Martin Short

There are so many notable songs on the nine-track album, but particularly “Tomorrow”, which is a real earworm, the beautiful “Only Love” and the psychedelic epic that is “Shot Em”. The latter of which perfectly sums up the band’s vibe and aesthetic. The song also features some lovely twin part guitar harmonies. In summary, you want the truth; you can’t handle The Damn Truth.

Adam Kennedy



The US-based troubadour’s latest offering showcases the evolution of his distinctive sound. ATD’s sophomore release traverses a vast musical spectrum. The western-tinged “Drop For Every Hour”, the bluesy “Better Ways To Fry A Fish” through to the foot-stomping, banjofuelled “24k Casket” perfectly illustrates this breadth of sounds and flavours. Whilst “Different Anymore” is one of the better examples of the artist’s latest direction - the song is a lot less macabre, with a gentler Americana arrangement. Danny Kiranos’ dark humour, storytelling, poetic lyricism and passionate delivery prevail. Artists will tell you that you get a lifetime to make your first album and months to make your follow-up. Hence that old saying, the difficult second album. Thankfully, for Amigo the Devil, this hasn’t been a problem.

This four-piece from Melbourne came to my attention with their haunting track “Out of Sight”, the third pre-album single to be released from the follow up to their 2016 debut Chance Collide. It’s a haunting track, that bears all the hallmarks of Alice in Chains, and when paired with a Weiland-esque tinge in the vocal harmonies produces something a little more than the sum of its parts, with a great hook that becomes an earworm in no time at all. More Stone Temple Pilots can be heard in the middle order cut Box of Anger and the title track, Cold Chamber, but these guys are unashamedly in the Cantrell camp and stick to their guns religiously. This is no bad thing as they do it so damn well. Don’t expect anything particularly new here, but Cold Chamber will give any fan of early ‘90s grunge something to immediately hang their hat (and check-shirt) on.

Adam Kennedy

Toby Winch

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FREE ENTRY for children under 4 years old




reviews - wolfheart / twisted illusion / ghosts of men / recall the remans




Mad Max has nothing on Mad Matt Jones who has blazed a fiery prog rock trail with his band Twisted Illusion. May 28th 2021 sees them release a re-worked and re-recorded version of their debut album Temple Of Artifice. As debuts go, it certainly set them on their way for an extensive recorded output, point proven by these three choice cuts taken from it. If you like your prog to enthral then this album is an excellent way to start. ‘Imitate Me Part 1’ is all earworm riffing and helium fuelled vocals from Matt and multi-tracked ones that Queen would be proud of. Dizzying time changes and a beautiful acoustic midsection heads off into guitar heaven. ‘Freedom To Fail’ begins with gently picked chords over angelic dual vocals from Matt and Mark Wagstaff. Piano soothes gracefully as it heavies up for an outro backed by orchestral strings. Hefty riffs and inhuman drum patterns drive along ‘Hatred Is A Virtue’ as a vociferous vocal includes the message of “Hatred is a virtue if you use it well”.

Trying to pigeon hole Ghosts of Men is like squeezing a 14” pizza into an ice-cream cone – yeah, you could fold it and squash it but ultimately it doesn’t really work. The heavy-alt duo have been compared to The White Stripes and Royal Blood, but they are more stone-baked than those bands – to continue the dubious pizza analogy.

Brit metalcore heavyweights, Recall The Remains, played HRH Metal in early 2020 which turned out to be the last HRH event to run before the Covid pandemic took a stranglehold on the music scene, and the world at large. Guitarist Zach fondly remembers the event as one of the bands favourite gigs to date, appearing on the same bill as genre legends such as Rhapsody of Fire, Evil Scarecrow and sharing a stage with peers Krysthla and Valafar. Read more about their experiences elsewhere in this issue.

Dennis Jarman

Toby Winch

Third track “Crooked Back” is a real gem, combining heavy grooves and an infectious melody to great effect. “Saviour” dials up the complexity, with it’s seriously cool middle eight, while “It’s Okay” adds a tasty topping of funky heavy. These guys are quirky, interesting and fun – and that’s just to interview. Their music is on a different plane altogether and is best heard in one sitting, as loud as possible, with nobody around to hear you scream along. Some may say it’s okay, they are wrong - it’s superb.

The five-piece from Telford, Shropshire (not normally known as a hotbed for modern extreme metal!) deliver the skull crushing “Dead Dreams” EP which opens with “Our Hell”, a track that successfully blends sweeping vocal melodies with doom laden riffs and death metal vocals. Breathtaking in places, the four tracks within should be right up the street of any Thy Art Is Murder, Trivium or Whitechapel fan. Raz White

Soldiers’ and ‘Hereditary’ as well as an acoustic version of the Shadow World album track ‘Aeon Of Cold’ with bass guitarist Lauri Silvonen delivering a clean vocal and a live version of the Wolves Of Karelia single, ‘Reaper’. This mesmerising release opens with ‘Skull Soldiers’ as an ominous call to arms intro is blown away by black-hearted riffs that writhe and churn with torturous resonance. Guttural vocals from Tuomas Saukkonen are dragged up and out from the very depths of Hell and touches of majesty come sweeping in courtesy of orchestral strings. The drums of Joonas Kauppinen pound metronomically until everything muscles in as snare drums speed up to wrist snapping power and an ear-splitting guitar solo rages in for a tumultuous ending. ‘Hereditary’ goes for the throat straight away with an unrelenting blast of vitriolic death metal as a feral first minute is dominated by furious kick drums and brain mangling riffs destroying everything in its path. Lead vocals kick in with manic intent backed again by those earworm orchestral strings. The sheer power of this song is breathtaking, even more so when the blast-beated midsection is a shockwave of hate as a moment of calm heralds an apocalyptic outro. The acoustic ‘Aeon Of Cold’ has enough menace to make you shiver even though the song is stripped down to its bleached bare bones by an almost whispered vocal to add extra fear to an already creepy dirge.

WOLFHEART - SKULL SOLDIERS EP (Napalm) Finnish death-metallers Wolfheart certainly blew any bank holiday cobwebs out of my ears with this absolutely over the top 4-track Skull Soldiers EP, released on Napalm Records. It consists of 2 brand new singles ‘Skull

They finish us with what’s left of our sanity with a live version of ‘Reaper’. It’s a fast and furious take with the spotlight stolen by inhuman drumming as Joonas seems to cover every inch of his kit with manic kick drums and warp speed snare work. Riffs are dense enough to create a shroud of oxygen stealing doom as it ends on a gruelling grind and orchestral strings.

Dennis Jarman

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reviews - thunder “The Smoking Gun” starts with a western tinge, and acoustic guitar a-plenty. An ode to Trump for sure – with the line “And we all let the devil in, ‘cos no-one believed he could win”. But don’t let that put you off – it is again a great piece of songwriting. A triple-whammy heavy and direct start is followed by the second single “Going To Sin City” – a real rocking anthem that will surely be a fan favourite for years to come when we can all get back to going to gigs. Even when listening at home it takes you off to those days. “Don’t Forget To Live Before You Die” is a song with a message to not let life pass you by. It’s a slow and brooding song, with guitar riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on a Rainbow album.

THUNDER - ALL THE RIGHT NOISES (BMG) The 13th studio album from Thunder is called “All The Right Noises” – and it is certainly as described! Originally recorded in 2019 and early 2020, it was planned to have it shared with the world in September 2020, but the joys of the Covid pandemic meant it didn’t see the light of day until 12th March this year. But boy was it worth the wait! All the songs on the album come from the pen of Luke Morley, and all have that old-school Thunder vibe to them – taking us back to the early days of the band and the classic blues-rock sound. It could be described as “Back Street Symphony” Part Two – it certainly has that feel to it, and I go so far as to say it is their best album since then, if not even bettering it. The songs are as always perfectly crafted, and the band is on form throughout, all adding to the end result. But the end result is greater than the sum of its parts, with Morley adding his production talents to the mix as well. From the get-go, the album sets out its intentions with the first single “Last One Out Turn Off The Lights”. It’s a song about Brexit, but not as you’d imagine. It’s a driving melody with heavy drums and intermittent guitars that sticks in the head longer than Boris’s promises. And it even has a Led-Zep riff thrown in for good measure. Up next is “Destruction”, which has a real blues vibe to it, and Danny Bowes has the voice to match – still one of the best voices in rock today. It is a dark song, about depression, and has a dark, heavy feel to it.

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“I’ll Be The One” follows, and is a superb ballad – slow, and beautifully written, with a solo to rank among the best from Luke Morley. “Young Man” livens things up again with a thumping beat behind it which you can’t help to nod your head to. Third single “You’re Gonna Be My Girl” has a classic Stones feel and is really catchy. A little cheeky in the lyrics, as is Morley’s want from time to time, and with honky-tonk piano means this is going to be one to have crowds singing along. “St George’s Day” has gritty lyrics aimed at the nationalist vibes of immigration and lack of tolerance. A serious statement, but still tackled with that Thunder finesse. “Force Of Nature” takes us back to Mr Trump again, and looks into his mindset and ego. But don’t worry – it’s not a political rant, and again has that tinge of Morley humour. The album finishes with “She’s A Millionairess”, a lighter note to end on and a tongue-incheek look at certain young inherited-rich ladies. The album was recorded at the famous Rockfield Studios, produced by Morley, recorded by Nick Brine and Chris Ramsey, mixed at The Warehouse in Vancouver by Mike Fraser and mastered by Ed Woods. It comes in a variety of formats including cassette, CD, deluxe double CD, double black vinyl, double blue/orange galaxy coloured vinyl and a deluxe 4 x LP version (2 x black, 2 x gold). The vinyl’s come in a gatefold sleeve with an amazing popup centre. The deluxe versions include 4 extra brand new tracks, plus 8 tracks from the album recorded live at Rockfield. All in all, there are some great tunes, with some fantastic songwriting. The standout tracks are 1-6, and also 7-11. Yes, not a bad one here! Thirty-plus years in the business and Thunder show us they are at the top of their game. Doug Bearne

reviews - ricky warwick / enforcer (Oops I Did It Again), Eddie Cochran (Summertime Blues), Iron Maiden (Wrathchild) to name a few. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Keith Nelson (ex-Buckcherry), who also co-wrote the majority of the songs on the record with Warwick. Also, once again, Warwick tapped some of his closest friends for guest appearances on the record, including Andy Taylor (Duran Duran & Power Station), Luke Morley (Thunder), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Dizzy Reed (Guns n Roses). Ricky also duets with his daughter Pepper on the song ‘Time Don’t Seem To Matter‘. The album kicks off with the anthemic title track When Life Was Hard and Fast, pure rock & roll with classic Black Star Riders overtones and a great guitar melody throughout. Second up is ‘You Don’t Love Me” a contemporary ballad hammering out a sing along chorus. Song number 3 ‘ I’d Rather Be Hit’ has a “stick it to ya” up-tempo feel, as the tune suggests “I’d rather be hit by any man, than hurt by any woman”. Up next is ‘Gunslinger’- pure and simple hard rock n roll, a fabulous chorus, an air guitar special and one of the album highlights. ‘Never Corner a Rat’ is a punk inspired tune, followed by ‘Time Don’t Seem to Matter’ which is the slowdown acoustic most songwriters would kill for – simplistic, full of emotion and heart, with a slight Celtic melody throughout the verses. ‘Fighting Heart’ would find its way easily on a BSR album - hard rock, classic guitar work throughout. ‘I Don’t Feel at Home’ is another inspired ballad singalong although at this point in the album, I’m wanting more rock & roll please!

RICKY WARWICK WHEN LIFE WAS HARD AND FAST (Nuclear Blast) ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’ is Ricky Warwick’s 5th solo offering, and the fanbase have been waiting a few years since the last critically acclaimed solo effort ‘When Patsy Cline Was Crazy’ was released in 2016. I’m very pleased to say this new solo album rocks! For the purposes of the review I will concentrate on the main album as the digi-pack contains an additional 11 tracks rich with acoustic covers from the likes of Britney Spears

ENFORCER LIVE BY FIRE II (Nuclear Blast) Now there are live albums and there are LIVE albums! Not all are completely live as overdubs etc in the studio iron out any flaws but to my ears Live By Fire II by Enforcer sounds as raw as you like as if taken from the sound desk when they played Mexico City in 2019. Formed in Arvika, Sweden in 2014, their take on thrash metal is not reinventing the wheel but they are breaking the speed limit with their delivery. This 19 song gig makes you feel like you’re in the front row and it’s a relentless 75-minute rollercoaster ride as the lengthy intro for ‘Die For The Devil’ includes a rabid crowd chant of the band name. The pace picks up with crunching heavy metal full of sumptuous melodies, helium fueled vocals from Olaf Wilkstrand and shimmering twin lead guitar breaks. ‘Searching For You’ is kick-drum driven mayhem from Jonas Wilkstrand that flies along on raging riffs that only pause for breath during the choruses and more solos fly out fast and furious off the fretboards of Olaf and Jonathan Nordwall. The vociferous crowd do their best to drown out the band as they chant along throughout ‘Undying Evil’ and they do a pretty good job of it! It’s all guitar mayhem from dizzying time changes and finger bleeding solos. ‘From Beyond’ has touches of ‘Thor The Powerhead’ by Manowar in its grooves which is no bad thing for me as the spoken word intro raises the crowd noise levels even higher. Foot on the monitors melodic heavy metal is the main ingredient and a guitar-dominated midsection gains some mighty crowd “whoa oh ohs”. The piano intro of ‘Bells Of Hades’ is the calm before the storm of the proto thrash ‘Death Rides This Night’. Riffs buzz away over another devastating drum assault. The potent power metal in ‘Zenith Of The Black Sun’ adds muscle to the bass guitar bludgeon of Tobias Lindqvist and the laid back verses. Olaf fires up the

Rick certainly delivers on ‘Still Alive’. This tune took me back to the heydays of the Almighty - blast this one on the motorway on 11! ‘Clown of Misery’ is a brief acoustic and almost forgotten as soon as the final track on the album punches through the stereo - ‘You’re My Rock N’ Roll’ with elements of punk inspired melodies, this album finishes as you would hope…leaving you wanting more! Although my personal preference is for a slightly sharper production, the songs are well written and would stand up well in most people’s record collections, a very strong album overall. Russell Peake crowd before they play ‘Live For The Night’ asking, “Show me some violence Mexico City. Are you ready to give us some blood tonight? Burn this place to the ground and live for the night”. As if that isn’t enough baiting then the warp-speed thrash is bound to have opened up a turbulent pit. Olaf claims that “This song is gonna take you all to hell and back” as the razorsharp riffing in ‘Mesmerized By Fire’ raise the intensity levels even higher. The main riff to ‘1000 Years Of Darkness’ grabbed me from the off as the song chugs along hard and heavy especially in the fists in the hair raising choruses and it closes on a blistering twin-lead assault. A sumptuous piece of heavy blues comes from the instrumental ‘Guitar Solo/City Lights Jam’ that shifts up the gears for a headbanging outro. ‘Scream Of The Savage’ is a surefire banger that hurtles along taking no prisoners in its wake. Another instantly memorable main riff thrashes and slashes towards a neck-breaking midsection and amazingly it gets heavier for the outro. ‘Drum Solo’. These can be boring sometimes and breaks up the flow of the gig but Jonas batters the sh*t out of his kit, point proven by a rabid crowd response. There is no pause for breath as ‘Run For Your Life’ lives up to its title. It’s another devastating drum-driven metal monster. ‘Take Me Out Of This Nightmare’ is a majestic epic that does not overstay its welcome of 7 minutes. Banshee screams from Olaf light the fuse for a ballbusting blast of rage. Choruses are blasted out loud and proud by the crowd and it goes batshit crazy with guitar frenzy and a lung-busting crowd call and response. First encore ‘Destroyer’ thrashes with the intensity of early Destruction and is a 100% certified circle pit opener. Another lengthy song comes from ‘Katana’. Abrasive riffing adds an extra edge to violent thrash metal. They go down the gears midway to allow the crowd to get even crazier and a race to the finish line outro sees them rage even harder and faster! Final track ‘Midnight Vice’ follows a lengthy rant from Olaf of “Mexico City! What a great f**king pleasure it’s been to come back here to play some heavy metal. We have one more song here or are you tired and wanna go home to sleep? You guys at the back are tired and wanna go to sleep right? You guys at the back love disco and stuff right? You guys in the front, you want another song? You got the Midnight Vice”. It’s my favourite song here as early Maiden NWOBHM vibes dominate and after all this time, Olaf still belts out some unearthly screams! Dennis Jarman

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reviews - accept / skarlett riot Jack Daniels. ‘Too Mean to Die’ brings us the first album with new members Martin Motnik (who replaced original bassist Peter Baltes), and additional guitarist Philip Shouse. They join Accept’s lone original member and guitarist Wolf Hoffman, vocalist Mark Tornillo, drummer Christopher Williams, and guitarist Uwe Lulis, with a sole mission to rock the hairs off your chest! The band may have changed, but the new lineup sounds reinvigorated as they play harder, dare I say - meaner, and ready to take this belter to the road! Album opener Zombie Apocalypse is full of pent up energy like throttling a chainsaw to the sky, delivering a big F-U to the year that we’ve had. One track in, Tornillo’s trademark screaming vocals demand to be heard. Title track Too Mean to Die is full of expected guitar riffs and extensive solos that play like a stampede of bulls to the gut. Whilst teeth-clenched standout Symphony of Pain is full of animation, exerting all animal instincts to the masses.

ACCEPT - TOO MEAN TO DIE (Nuclear Blast) German heavy rockers Accept deliver their sixteenth album ‘Too Mean to Die’. A stronghold in the metal scene for over 40 years, they continually add to the primal DNA of the genre, ensuring headbanging antics, an emporium of riffs, and a trusty wingman to a friendly-faced

‘Too Mean to Die’ extends well past the four decades of pedigree, as the lyrics chime in on modern day antics with multi-generational relevance. Overnight Sensation takes on the argumentative battle of social media addiction as Tornillo bravely belt’s out ‘I am no-one’s bastard’. Whilst No One’s Master aptly attacks the hypocrisy of today’s world leaders, thus encouraging the voice of a new generation to be heard. Accept deliver a steady album full of rock anthems, likely to satisfy at any festival. Is it their best work? Collectively not but it certainly adds to a solid history of damn fine ear penetrating metal.

Michelle Evans ‘Under Water’ is a blast of well-balanced chuggery reminiscent of early Disturbed, complimented with a chorus made for arenas & festivals around the globe. Next up is ‘Stronger’, another single, which is all-out metal through the verses. If you close your eyes you may well feel superhuman flying through the sky at 30,000ft when the chorus kicks in. ‘Cut the Ties’ follows, which for me is one of the most memorable tunes on this album and a stomper accompanied by a great riff & a catchy melody through the chorus lines. ‘Into Pieces’ is quite the epic ballad type with some crisp acoustic touches changing the pace of the album and which vocally sounds familiar in the vein of Charlotte Wessels on some notes.

SKARLETT RIOT - INVICTA (Despotz) Four-piece alt-metallers Skarlett Riot have a new release entitled ‘Invicta’ – and as I write this review, I’m on my 5th listen from start to finish. From the outset it’s clear the production is crisp, the musicianship is tight & the songs are full of riffs & hooks that will keep the fanbase wellpleased with their new offering The album kicks off with the thunderous ‘Breaking the Habit’ - an anthemic blast that will go down well live I’m sure. ‘Gravity’, one of three singles, stomps through the speakers begging to smack your face up with every beat. Then we change tempo a little with ‘Black Cloud’, a melodic opus with variations of mood to keep you entertained throughout the song. Indeed, you could run out of breath keeping up with Skarlett if you like to sing along.

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Now we move onto what I feel is the highlight of the album, ‘Not Alone’. I do favour the minor key changes in songwriting & this song delivers. All the levels are spot on. Thundering drums, bass & guitars in sync along with a great melody, the lyrics are perfect for the mood of the song and I congratulate Skarlett on the pitch, tone & strength of how she attacks this particular tune. This song will be on repeat for a good while to come. ‘To the Flames’ is one of the more commercial sides of Skarlett Riot, with many elements of Within temptation in structure. ‘Falling’ is a well-structured tune with all the nuts & bolts required for live performance, highlighting again a distinct quality to Skarlett’s vocal powers. ‘Human’ is the final tune here, and another single by all accounts. You can tell Danny, Luke, Skarlett and Tim have worked hard on this wellrecorded piece of art, and for this genre of music it fits perfectly. Up to now, I hadn’t heard that much of Skarlett Riot, so I decided to get a fuller picture and listen to their previous works as a reference point. Indeed, ‘Invicta’ has elements one might say are plucked straight from the alt-metal 101 manual of songwriting, and for me at least, the growling amongst some of the songs are more of a distraction when they do appear. Going forward, I hope their craft matures a more distinct flavour to free them of this saturated genre. However, on this record the band clearly going from strength to strength. Russell Peake

reviews - kopiklaani / spiders from saigon / rebecca downes / ellefson

SPIDERS FROM SAIGON SPIDERS FROM SAIGON (Spiders From Saigon Records) Spiders From Saigon are a studio based band from the North East of England who have produced a classic metal album that reflects majestic influences from the masters; Maiden, Priest & Sabbath. But there’s a lot more going on with this self-titled album, and right from the opening track “Voyage To Decay” & funk-o-metal “Static Colour” it’s obvious that this is a project comfortable to experiment styles and the outcome is more than enough quality songs to make this well worth buying. Packed with big riffs and exquisite lead guitar work, standout tracks are “Beyond Lock & Key” & “Triptych” which have that punch to the face SOIL vibe going on. Hellyeah! Raz White



If you can imagine Rebecca Downes and guitarist Steve Birkett perched atop bar stools grasping acoustic guitars, then you are halfway to visualising what this album is all about. The vibe is reminiscent of the ‘90s MTV Unplugged series utilising ‘stripped back’ acoustic arrangements, hence the album name. Fan favourites such as ‘Take Me Higher’, ‘Hurts’ and ‘More Sinner Than Saint’ work incredibly well in this format. The arrangement allows Rebecca’s incredible voice to shine. By a similar token, her emotive delivery radiates during the heartfelt ‘Sailing on a Pool of Tears’ or new song ‘Blues For Us’. Subsequently, reimagined renditions of staple numbers from Rebecca’s repertoire such as ‘Believe’ and ‘Night Train’ truly stand out on the album.

For Ellefson’s latest release, the Megadeth bass player has assembled an impressive list of his musical friends. However, the thing about the tracklisting is that it’s not the typical songs from the greats which are covered. Ellefson’s take on “Freewheel Burning” by Judas Priest and “Tear It Loose” by Twisted Sister leave the listener under no illusion that this album is going to get heavy. Charlie Benate and David Ellefson form a dynamite combination during their take on The Dead Kennedy’s “Holiday in Cambodia”. Whilst a harmonious rendition of Queen’s “Sheer Heart Attack” featuring Doro Pesch and Bumblefoot is one of the standout songs on the album.

With her latest offering, Downes has managed to breathe a new lease of life into these classics from her songbook. ‘Stripped Back’ is the perfect cure to your summertime blues.

The beauty of a cover song is when an artist pays homage to the original whilst at the same time making it their own. And that’s certainly the case with this release. Only one word can describe ‘No Cover’ by Ellefson and that’s Mega!

Adam Kennedy

Adam Kennedy thinking? That’s when the Russian who lives in my head reminded me that the band aren’t native English speakers, and perhaps instead of complaining about what I couldn’t hear I should listen to what I can hear and let the music guide me… so I did and do you know what – he was right, this album is really rather good. The tunes are a mixture of growling angry metal and boingy jump around folk music, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. My shoulders start moving, my foot taps, and I find myself drifting to another place where the mead is flowing and the fire is roaring and everyone is dancing. My favourite track, Leväluhta, is heavy with the accordion and violin (perhaps I just like folk metal), and whilst I have no clue what they are singing about, the music makes me want to dance. It’s almost like a contagion, it’s fast and frenetic, and leaves you in a heap in the corner when it ends. By contrast, Miero is a bit slower and the vocals sound a little more mournful, while Neimi is more metal-sounding whilst still retaining the accordion and violin without it being weird. Or perhaps it is weird and that’s what makes it great? I’m so glad that I had a word with myself and gave his album a second, third and fourth listen because the more I listen to it the more it makes me smile. I still have no idea what they are singing about, but that doesn’t matter because the music has now managed to get under my skin and is stuck in my head – and for me, that’s the secret to a great album…humming along without realising you’re doing it.

KORPIKLAANI - JYLHA (Nuclear Blast) It’s been difficult trying to get my head around the new Korpiklaani album, Jylhä, and I’ve had to listen to it a few times before I could put pen to paper. Firstly, and probably the most selfish argument I have - there’s no English! How can I review an album that I don’t understand? What were they

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Korpiklaani are due to headline the HRH Vikings festival in Sheffield later this year, and I’m genuinely excited to see them. If listening to their album makes me want to dance, what effect will it have on a live audience? I anticipate dancing and merriment throughout their set. Jezebel Steele

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BLACK PISTOL FIRE If you’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing Black Pistol Fire live, you probably know the feeling which the author is about to articulate. They are one of those bands, that when you see them perform, you can’t help but want to tell all of your friends about the experience. Back in 2015, a colleague overseas had seen the dynamic duo perform at a Lollapalooza sideshow and posted an image online of BPF frontman Kevin McKeown mid-flight, majestically leaping off the top of drum kit several feet off the ground. This shot alone was enough to spark a deep dive of the band’s material on YouTube. Subsequently, in 2018 the pair made it to the UK as the opening act for indie/rock outfit The Fratellis. But were they worth the three-year wait? The answer is unequivocal – yes! Furthermore, Black Pistol Fire are about to enter a new chapter following the release of their

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latest album ‘Look Alive’. Now, will the band return to the UK based on the current circumstances – who knows? Times are uncertain, but we can live in hope. HRH Mag recently caught up with Black Pistol Fire vocalist/guitarist Kevin McKeown at home in Austin, Texas to talk about the group’s critically acclaimed new album ‘Look Alive’, their energetic live shows along with their thoughts on releasing a concert album. How much are you guys missing performing live right now? I think it’s starting to settle in a little bit now, or it’s starting to creep in - that angst of wanting to get out and to start playing in front of people again. I think for the first six months or so last year, I don’t think at least for me personally, I didn’t get that feeling that I need to get out because I enjoyed just being at home with my family and my little son. And being able to just catch

black pistol FIRe

”I’ve started to feel this eagerness to get out and play these songs”


up on a bunch of stuff that I hadn’t been able to do in a while, like some old ideas and writing. But I think as we ended last year and crept into this year, especially with the new album just coming out, I think I’ve started to feel this eagerness of wanting to get out to play these songs for people. But, I don’t know when that’s going to be, but hopefully soon. Your live shows are explosive. Have you ever thought about putting out an actual live album? Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s something we have plans to do in the future. I think we’ve got some things right now that we’re working on to lead up to that. But an actual live concert album with a room full of chaotic fans, that’s something I think we’ve always wanted to do and still want to do. But yeah, it’s kind of bizarre that we’ve been doing this for 10 years and we’ve never really been able to kind of put those pieces together and make that happen. But I think it would be a lot of fun. The new album, ‘Look Alive’, it’s a cool album. It feels it’s a little bit more diverse than some of your other material, it’s got a really wide musical spectrum. Was that intentional? Did you kind of want to go out there and try and represent all of your different musical flavours or did it just kind of happen organically? Out of all the albums we’ve made over the past 10 years, I think that it was all kind of leading up to this release. I think that it was a deliberate decision not to make an album that kind of felt similar to too much stuff that we’ve done in the past. I wanted to start exploring a different identity with the band in terms of still maintaining your raw roots of being a rock and roll band at heart, but also being able to bring in all these other influences from music that inspires you. From Hip Hop, Soul and R&B to anything. So, I think we were deliberate with that or making that a conscious decision. And yeah, it was a bit of a gamble too. I love listening to albums that have a nice kind of art rollercoaster vibe to it where every song’s kind of like, whoa, that was a bit of an oddball, or you’d never know what’s going to be waiting

around the corner - that kind of type of vibe. But there’s always a little bit of risk in that too, where you could miss the mark. To make something that’s a nice variety of music, that’s all cohesive I think that’s such a tricky thing. So that’s kind of where we were at with this album. We just wanted to make it something that any of our fans probably never heard us do before, but still sounded like us. The album title itself is quite dark. Would you say that the pandemic sort of fed into your thinking? Did it sit in the back of your mind when you were coming up with that title? Well, I had the title for the album before the pandemic hit, because the album was supposed to come out in July last year. But then when the pandemic hit, and we had songs like “Hope in Hell” and the name of the record. And also, all the aesthetics and the album artwork and everything that we’ve been working towards were very oddly and strangely coincidental to everything that was going on last year. And people would text me and say, oh man, these songs speak so to the times. And I was like, yeah, it’s crazy - like that song was two years old. So, I think it was just, maybe the right timing of everything coming out in terms of the music, but a lot of this stuff had been brewing for a while. It’s difficult to promote an album amid this craziness. What are your plans going forward? Oh man, my idea is probably as good as yours. I have no idea, but I know that we have plans to try to tour in the summer with a couple of offers that have been going out with festivals and a few shows. So the plan is hopefully we can get out there and do some shows and touring by the end of the summer or the fall, hopefully. And, fingers crossed because we’re getting an itch to get out there and play some of these songs, but again who knows really. ‘Look Alive’ by Black Pistol Fire is out now via Black Hill Records.

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“Genesis’ A Trick of the Tail was the first record I ever bought, so to arrive at a point where Steve Hackett is guesting on our album was just amazing!” Ian Jones, Illuminae

Prog fans will already be familar with Ian Jones’ primary musical vehicle Karnataka - who we get to see again at HRH Prog X in September. Ian was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to talk to us about his brand new project Illuminae... Good Afternoon! Where do we find Illuminae today? Good afternoon! You find us enjoying the Spring sunshine in London! It won’t last of course, it’ll be snowing/hailing/raining soon (delete as appropriate) so we’re making the most of it! For the uninitiated, tell us a little history of the band…tell us about the project that is Illuminae… Illuminae is myself and vocalist Agnieszka Swita. We’ve been friends for a number of years and had similar tastes in music. We started working on some ideas together but both got busy with our bands and projects. I was working on Karnataka’s Secrets of Angels album. Fast forward to 2017 and I was listening back to the ideas we’d started and just thought we had some really strong material that deserved to be revisited. By then we both had the time to dedicate to the project and Illuminae was born! We discussed how we wanted to take the project forward and we were both keen not to create a band in the traditional sense – we both already had established bands and collaborators – but to write together and invite guest musicians to record on the album. There was a simplicity to working as a duo which was very attractive and immediate. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have Steve Hackett, John Helliwell, Craig Blundell, Troy Donockley, Luke Machin and Gonzalo Carrera as special guests. How did you approach the writing of Dark Horizons? Was it a fairly seamless process or were there bumps along the road? To start with there wasn’t really any crystallised idea of what this project was going to be; we were just two friends getting together and making music, so it all developed in a natural way over the course of time. I think we reached a point where we’d written quite a lot of material and made that leap of deciding this could be an album! All the material on Dark Horizons was written collaboratively, usually around the piano or acoustic guitar, and yes, it was quite a seamless process. We both really enjoy the writing process and everything just clicked as a writing partnership. How was it working with prog-rock legend Steve Hackett? Wonderful and surreal in equal measures! Genesis’ A Trick of the

Tail was the first record I ever bought, so to arrive at a point where Steve Hackett is guesting on our album was just amazing! Steve was great to work with and just so kind and gracious. He plays a couple of beautiful solos on the album opener The Lighthouse. A bit of a ‘pinch-yourself-is-this-really-happening’ moment! It’s been a difficult few months to say the least for most bands that were ready to put new music out into the world, how have you kept a presence and made sure Dark Horizons has got the attention it deserves? Yes, it’s been an incredibly difficult time for the whole music industry. One silver lining is it afforded us a lot of time to work on a video for one of the album tracks Blood on Your Hands. I’d found some great, very imaginative and beautifully filmed videos created by Chris Lavelle of LDi Studios. We approached Chris to see if was interested in collaborating on a video project and sent him some demos of the songs we were working on. He liked what we were doing and we settled on Blood on Your Hands as having a lot of visual potential. Chris storyboarded some great ideas and we did some green screen filming in the David Puttnam Media Centre of Sunderland University. Chris created this whole world in which the story unfolds. The album has also been getting a lot of airplay and very positive reviews which has helped get the music out there, and of course, I’ve had to dance with the devil - otherwise known as ‘social media’! What plans do you have for Illuminae moving forward? Any gigs on the horizon? We’re already working on the follow up to Dark Horizons and have quite a bit of new material written. We’d love to take the album out on the road, and like everyone, we’re just monitoring the situation and hoping that can happen at some point. But in the meantime, we’ll continue working on new material and hopefully get to collaborative with Chris Lavelle again on a new video project. Thanks for catching up with me today, you get the last word... what’s it gonna be? A huge thank you to everyone including HRH for your support. We hope the album allows you to escape the outside world, even if just for a little while. Stay safe and look forward to seeing many of you on the road.. hopefully soon! WORDS: TOBY WINCH PHOTOS: MARIA KUCZARA

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recall the remains

RECALL THE REMAINS Hi guys...where do we find Recall The Remains today? Hey HRH, I’m Zach (guitar), great to talk to you! We’re currently unwinding after a long day in lovely Telford. You formed in 2017, were you already in bands together? Nearly all of us have been involved in different local bands with each other over the years, but the real foundation of the band as we see it today is Jordan (bass, vocals) and Elliot (guitar), who have been writing music together for over 10 years. Myself and Tony (drums) have been doing the same on and off for a similar amount of time and eventually, we started writing and playing together. The final piece of the puzzle was the arrival of Jacob (vocals) in 2017, and Recall The Remains as we know it today was born. How is the metal scene in the Midlands? The Midlands metal scene was absolutely packed with incredible bands before the world ended and it felt like there was always a massive choice of different bands to go and support, especially in Birmingham and Wolverhampton. We were fortunate enough to play quite a few shows at the beginning of 2020 (including HRH Metal) and every show had a good turnout, people enjoyed themselves and the bands we played with were brilliant. The great thing about our local scene is it feels really inclusive, and it allows us to play shows with friends like Elyrean, Gutlocker, Nebula State, and Beyond Your Design amongst loads and loads of others.

As you mentioned, we were lucky enough to have you play at HRH Metal - which was actually the last HRH Festival to go ahead before the pandemic took hold. How was that weekend for you guys? HRH Metal was hands down the best gig we’ve played and we’re so grateful to have been a part of the weekend. The turnout was amazing, the sound was amazing and to see so many people staring out at us and enjoying what we were doing will always stay with us, although we’ll happily forget carrying our gear down from the 4th storey of the car park next door! But joking aside, being part of an event with such prestigious bands as Rhapsody of Fire and Evil Scarecrow as well as sharing the stage with Krysthla and Valafar (who we’ve played with in the past) was an unforgettable experience and we’d love to be a part of it again! Tell me about the new EP “Dead Dreams” - was it written pre lockdown? Luckily for us, Dead Dreams was completely written and recorded before lockdown, so all that was needed by the time the big C-word struck was mixing and mastering. It was produced, mixed and mastered by our good friend Tom at Monochrome Productions and he’s done a fantastic job. He’s also helped immeasurably in developing the songs and refining them into their final form so we are incredibly thankful to be working with him.

recall the remains

“HRH Metal was hands down the best gig we’ve played” The EP itself deals a lot with mental health and has some recurring themes around oppression and grief, and in places is written almost like a dialogue between two entities with Jacob portraying one point of view and Jordan playing the other. I think the EP as a whole really captures our diverse influences and blends them nicely into an experience that is brutal, melodic, soaring and emotional without being overbearing in any of these aspects. The main challenge with the EP release was getting all the visual elements such as the music videos recorded. Due to the various lockdowns, we had the incredible joy of trying to book video shoots that were lockdown compliant, in open spaces where we could be socially distanced, whilst making sure the videographer (Jay Hillyer) and locations were out of tier 4 lockdown. We even had the police turn up to our Darker Path shoot because a local citizen thought we were having an illegal rave at the location! Thankfully, we were abiding by the rules (not very punk rock but we also don’t want Covid) and had just finished the last take so everything was fine but it kind of sums up the fun we had trying to get the videos down. We also worked with a PR company for the first time to help us push the release (thank you Garry/SaN PR) which was a great experience, and also taught us how important it is to have deadlines! That’s the most boring anecdote in the world but y’know, it’s helped us grow and learn for our next releases. I’ve spoken to a lot of bands and discussed how they’ve managed to keep themselves in the public eye, did you find yourself adapting to the current global situation or is this something you’ve always done? I think we could have done a better job at adapting to the current situation. A lot of bands and artists started putting out loads of live content or recording covers and moving into the streaming business but we’ve not really done any of that.

Luckily, most of the band were able to continue working throughout lockdown but this meant we also had less time to work on different types of content. We’ve just tried to keep our heads down and focused on getting Dead Dreams out there, with the exception of a livestream we did in November for the awesome folks who manage the 0161 Manchester Undergound Metal Community group on Facebook. We’ve also just filmed a live performance for a charity festival in aid of Tenovus Cancer Care called UnMute Rock Music Festival. This will be broadcast on 1st May and we’re really looking forward to it. Tell me about giant burgers and Kangaroo testicles…? Neither makes a nice milkshake! What plans do the band have moving forward, have you managed to consider the future in such bizarre circumstances? We’ve got a few gigs lined up for the rest of the year, as well as participation in Metal 2 The Masses in the hope of securing a spot at Bloodstock Festival. Aside from that, we’re playing Derby Alt Fest and The Annual Mayor’s Rockfest in Wolverhampton, and even supporting Dubwar who if you’re not aware is Benji from Skindred’s other band! There’s a few other gigs yet to be announced as well. We’re also looking to get studio time booked in to begin recording our Wfollow-up to Dead Dreams which we’re super excited about. Thanks for speaking to me today, you get the final word… what is it? Thanks for having me! Get out, support your local scene. They need you now more than ever! WORDS: JOHN ELLIS LIVE PHOTO: SIMON DUNKERLEY

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Atom heart mutha

ATOM HEART MUTHA The heavy underground is a vast and ever-expanding place and we live in an era where music is readily available and relatively easy to come across. Each week for ‘Atom Heart Mutha’ I listen to show submissions as well as look further afield to see what great music is out there. Here are my recommendations of albums I think are well worth seeking out and discovering, You can find these artists on Bandcamp and social media as well as hear them on my Atom Heart Mutha Radio Show, every Friday on Hard Rock Hell Radio

BLASTING ROD - III (GLORY OR DEATH RECORDS) 2021 has been an interesting year so far and there have been, as expected, releases that haven’t failed to disappoint. I’ll be discussing a couple of those shortly; but there has already been one stand out release that (for my ears anyway) came from completely out of the blue - Japan in fact! Blasting Rod’s ‘III‘ is the best kind of surprise, it’s an album that can most defiantly be described as psychedelic avantgarde space rock but it also contains some of the best acerbic grooves and fuzzed-out freak outs you’ll hear for months to come. Fans of acid rock jams by the likes of Hibushibire and The Heads will find plenty to dig as well those that need a Black Rainbows style dirty stoner hit to get them through the day. Blasting Rod are an interesting prospect and ‘III’ serves as a great introduction.

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Atom heart mutha



Acid Mammoth are back after just a year with “Caravan” - the follow up to their superb “Under Acid Hoof”. Once more there is no doubt that the Greek quartet know how to smash down hard with bone-crushing stoner doom riffs straight from Planet Sabbath and this time around they have concocted a hypnotic slow burn of heavy tripped-out tracks that show that their sound will continue to evolve and surprise. Caravan is much more progressive than previous releases and the title track itself demonstrates the band will to evolve into something monstrously huge. Acid Mammoth have once more proven there are bands out there with enough heft to push themselves to the forefront and this album surely puts them further on the path to greater attention.

Bradford’s five-piece Son Of Boar have been bubbling away nicely for a while now gaining a great reputation as a hard-working live band (gigs, remember those?!) capable of performing face-melting sonic assaults live in a very respectable doomy style. Coming in at a heavy-hitting yet punchy 35 minutes, Son of Boar have crafted 5 songs that move beautifully through sludgy-stoner doom, on album opener ‘Stoned Wail’ to the skullbreaking “All In Your Head” which also shows off some nice metal flourishes too. Album highlight (and one of my favourite singles of the year) comes via the closing track “Cities Of The Deadeyed Priestess” - a stomping 6-minute smash of a track and a sure to be live favourite. Son Of Boar are ready with their tusks up – so get ready to see and hear more of this band.

The Black Heart Death Cult – Sonic Mantras (Kozmik Artifactz)

Mythic Sunship - Wildfire (Tee Pee Records)

Australian heavy psych rock - it’s a wonderful thing and The Black Heart Death Cult are an integral part of it. Sonic Mantras is the bands follow up to their 2019 debut and finds the band in a wonderful place. Laid out over 8 tracks and 45 superb tripped out droney minutes of neo-psychedelia, this is said to be largely inspired at the current and rather bleak state of the world and is a journey of discovery of love and ultimately hope. Musically engulfing the beautiful swells of organ sounds with nods to the feel of sixties psych legends Iron Butterfly’s classic In A Gadda Da Vida and also taking cues from the likes of The Black Angels, Sonic Mantras sounds like a heavy trip on paper but is, in fact, an uplifting immersive thing of beauty and quite possibly one of the best albums of its kind you’ll hear all year.

Mythic Sunship recently announced that they have signed to legendary NYC label Tee Pee Records (The Atomic Bitchwax, Joy, Earthless) for their fifth full-length release “Wildfire’. The band have unleashed another incredible album that maintains all the hallmarks of what makes them a special band - heavy psychedelic jams, groove-laden fuzz rock and cosmic rhythms. Regular listeners to the AHM Radio Show will have been given an early treat to album opener ‘Maelstrom’ - a fantastic, urgent, sax lead space rock opus that showcases the band’s grip on modern psychedelia whilst also catering to those with more eclectic tastes in music. Mythic Sunship remain consistent and vibrant within their field, it doesn’t matter if you approach this with an open or closed mind, Mythic Sunship will blow it for you regardless!

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Michael Schenker’s 50th Anniversary - “IMMORTAL” performed by the current MSG/Michael Schenker Group


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eNQUIRe within

ENQUIRE WITHIN The heavy metal landscape is getting wider and despite the difficulties faced by every band and artist over the past year, many have strived to ensure they still stand up and shout, some louder than ever.

Metal Rocka Recordings stars Enquire Within are fast developing a reputation for being one of the hardest working bands in the business. Their innovative and creative projects during lockdown have demonstrated a hunger to produce quality music that has kept fans happy and eager to find out what is next in store from the London band. The band showed their resilience and determination to succeed by insisting the pandemic would not prevent them from achieving their dream of working within the music industry when they drove up the M1 in-between lockdowns to sign their recording contract at a service station! The band spoke to me about their various projects in this exclusive interview. Much has happened over the last 18 months and many artists plans have changed, where were Enquire Within before the global pandemic changed everything and how did you tackle the days ahead? Our last gig before lockdown was at HRH Metal at the O2 Birmingham over a year ago. In the absence of live gigs, we wanted to put on a show that our fans could watch and came up with the idea of a Live Session at Hackney Road Studios. We decided to perform our album Bloodlines but in a live setting which was recorded by producer Nic Baker and captured on video by his team. We had two new members of the band, Amelia Pellegrino-White playing guitar and Erim Ahmet playing bass. They brought a new energy and dynamic to our performance which meant the tracks evolved from the way we initially wrote them and produced the new Enquire Within sound. We wanted to share this evolution, this new sound and look with our fans, so we formed a new

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partnership with HRH TV with weekly videos that reached a wider audience. It’s more than a live album, it’s a live experience during lockdown, and the reaction has been fantastic. We can’t wait to perform some of these tracks, with the new line-up, when we get back on the road later this year. The 10 videos you produced for the Live Sessions at Hackney Road Studios were very well received and really do showcase a band not content to rest on their laurels in the face of adversity, but you didn’t stop there. What inspired you to follow on with the Under The Covers series? We were determined not to sit idly by and wait for lockdown to pass. We wanted to build on the momentum of the experience with HRH TV, so we decided to perform some of our favourite tracks from bands that inspired us. We have always performed live versions of Avenged Sevenfold’s Nightmare and Trivium’s In Waves, so these were very familiar songs. Our fans may have been surprised by our other choices from System Of A Down to Cancer Bats. We didn’t just want to do ‘ok’ cover versions, we wanted them to reflect how we were evolving as a band. Amelia’s musical influences and preferences are much further away from metalcore towards death and black metal and we were happy to experiment with this. Jacob has always described our music as a bit of pick and mix metal, particularly as we love thrash metal and these cover songs reflect this perfectly. Amelia has a personal connection with Power Trip having broken her ankle in the pit watching them at Download and wanted to pay tribute to their lead singer Riley Gale who died last year. She didn’t know she had broken her ankle until she got home from the gig – that’s dedication! Our version of Executioner’s Tax has been the surprise track as it’s the most viewed of all within the Under The Covers series – we love it so much and we can’t wait to bring it to you live.

enquire within

“We think we will surprise our fans with the new material and can tease that the next single after Get Out is completely different. We can’t wait for you to hear the new songs” What challenges did you face when recording the Under The Covers series? We started recording the tracks and making the videos whilst in Tier 2 and it was reasonably straightforward, particularly as Erim was going to record and mix the tracks for us in his studio. We then jumped into Tier 4 within days which made life a lot harder as we couldn’t really meet up. Fortunately, Henry and Jacob live together and this meant they could get their part of the videos done safely and send it to Dan for editing and final production. We don’t think you can tell that the videos were all filmed separately and then put together by Dan in the editing suite, although I suppose we’ve let the cat out of the bag now! How did this affect the bands working dynamic? Did it alter how you would traditionally write and record new material? Although previously Dan and Henry would write the music separately, they could always get together to discuss, and agree or disagree, on the way forward for new tracks and get a good idea on which riffs worked. That process has been conducted almost exclusively online which has added a different dynamic to their writing. It’s also made it easier to share new ideas online to the whole band rather than just present a final product for Jacob to then write the lyrics. Once an idea has been agreed and sketched out Dan now records a demo version and sends it to the other band members so they can get a good feel for the track. Jacob works his magic by adding lyrics and passes it to Dan to plan harmonies over the track. You will hopefully notice the difference in the way that we’ve matured and evolved when you hear the new material coming soon. There is definitely a fresh approach to how we have worked

during lockdown and it makes a difference with Amelia writing some of the music making the final version a bit edgier with her musical influences. It also makes life a lot easier when Erim is not only recording and mixing the new tracks but also playing bass as this adds another dynamic to the final sound. What can you tell us about the new single? The new single is called Get Out and is available to download now on all major retailers. Performing Under The Covers was a lot of fun but we wanted to bring out our own new material and this single is the first part of that. We have a lot more coming soon in 2021 and this single reflects how we have evolved as a band taking influences from other bands we love and some we would love to play with in the future. We think we will surprise our fans with the new material and can tease that the next single after Get Out is completely different. We can’t wait for you to hear the new songs and to get together in a rehearsal room to prepare to get back into performing live. We gave you a taste of what we liked with the Live Sessions at Hackney Road Studios and Under The Covers but this new single is a step up for us and shows how we’ve been influenced musically and the next direction of travel. Enquire Within have also recorded a video for Get Out – which you can find HRH TV on YouTube. WORDS: JOHN ELLIS

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n o s g d o H Jon ”That first year I went had me hooked - I met people I now call friends - I love the concept Jonni created”

Introduce yourself…what’s your name and where do you come from? Hi Viki, I’m Jon from (to quote Highlander) lots of different places. Where I come from does not define me but did shape my musical tastes, but in short, born in Bradford, grew up in and around Maryport, West Cumbria, no not the lake district but an insular looking town on the decline with little prospects. A song that fits this perfectly is “My Town” by Falling Red. I love the place! I will go into my early life a little later on, however moving from Cumbria opened my eyes so wide I have never returned - living in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Peterhead, Cardiff, Antrim and Hannover I find myself settled (ish) in Gainsborough, north Lincolnshire, the once Viking Capital of England and home of Viking kings Canute and Forkbeard later to be a holiday home for Henry VIII. My accent is fluid with twangs of Yorkshire, Welsh and Cumbrian. I’m often asked if I’m a Geordie and even Scouse - no idea where that one came from! I recently had a DNA test which resulted in 0% English DNA! 71.9% Irish Scottish and Welsh 26.4% East European 1.7% North African and I am still not closer in giving you where do I come from - maybe my name will help define me! To be fair I will answer to most things, Mr.H, Jonti, Jonny, Hodge, Hodgie, Jonathan, Jonboy, boy or as a move towards my half century just Jon. These are all dependant how well you know me and where you know me from. Hi, I’m Jon and I am from the Great Britain (I am 100% English rugby though) Tell the HRH MAG readers about yourself! Having lived in lots of different places, you may wonder what drives this travelling man - quite simply I have moved where the military has sent me, I like to explore, I love travelling to new places and discovering the feel of different aspects of our country and those further away. As soon as I could I left school at 15 1/2 with 2 GCSEs Geography and Home Economics and became a bricky. I loved watching Auf Wiedersehen Pet growing up (never heard of it? Go watch it from the start, a tale of camaraderie and growth) but as it turned out I was bad not from lack of effort just a lack of any natural ability. All the time in the background I had a yearning to join the RAF - I think, on reflection, embedded in me from my Grandad who served in WW2 with the Airforce. After only 18 months on the tools, I joined the RAF Police – personally, this was just pure growth for me giving me an education, development and boundaries the younger me required. Ah I nearly forgot, DEAF SHEEP…the tale of the legendary West Cumbrian rock n roll express - videos, drink, good times, tunes, press write-ups, Our band had 3 drummers 2 of which, the mighty Lobster and Gareth both passed away early in life, but 2 guys I loved and influenced the music of my youth. Lobster was a punk who brought me the Dead Kennedys and Gareth who was more Skid Row. Anyhow, our heyday was short-lived as it turned out - yours truly stomping around the stage in denim cut-offs, white hightops, waistcoat and trilby needed more than a look he also needed musical talent and an ability to sing - and I have neither! The other guys Mark, Carl and Andy were all brilliant artists, I think only Carl is still on stage now though. We had a small fan base founded on gossip and reputation and only ever played “The Office” in Cockermouth but with our Lawnmower Deth-esque inspired “tea and biscuits” we smashed it.

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Back to military life and I become a dog handler and loved it, throwing myself into it, I was selected to be part of the RAF Police Dog Display Team in the ‘90s, starring at Crufts, GMTV and performing in front of 25,000 at Earls Court twice a day for two weeks - although not rock stars we lived on the road and in hotels for over a year, travelling for shows and burning the candle at both ends, with a work hard play hard attitude throughout the team. After 15 years I drew a close to my RAF life and spent one week as a civilian again -one whole week to do anything I wanted - so I joined the Army. Am I institutionalized, 100% I am - life out of a uniform scares the hell out of me. I’m far too direct and have a colourful language pattern according to Mrs H! At this point in my life after 15 years in the Army, I find myself on the move again to Norfolk and very close to the new HRH home in Yarmouth! So looking forward to a short drive home after the weekend! Jon, you are an essential worker, what was your experience of being in the military during Covid-19? With no live music, what did you do to keep your spirits up during the pandemic? Covid has knocked us all for 6, the last gig I got to was in Lincoln with DC legend Jim Taylor, Razz, Foxy amongst others. Triple JDs, smashed and a stumble home. 2 days later in the lockdown which has just gone, we the DC have lost our very own private photographer Michael Driscoll someone we all took for granted but was haunted with self-doubting, I always smile when I see his pictures appear on Facebook, if you have the time raise a glass toast his life - RIP buddy! We have another DC member in hospital and I am sure there are others. In the workplace, and with my gigging friends I have noticed changes in mental health, life has not been the same regardless of what we say and feel. We all have operated differently throughout the last 12 months, closing pubs, bands breaking up, bands no longer banging on your stereo it’s been different. Personally, I have prioritised looking after my troops, talking, ensuring they have time with their families, whilst keeping communication with those working from home. ike our favourite bands gigging online there have been festivals online and oh my quizzes online hundreds of them! The military have moved as much training as possible to Teams, Zoom and Skype. Tech has moved fast and will continue to support our needs. Being in work most days, I have walked and now know every inch of my town and where the strongest smell of weed is and what times people smoke it, dodging the dog poop in the dark early morning. I have joined wine clubs, gin clubs and ordered online beer – but none of these has made me content, I’m a people person, I miss hugs off strangers and friends I don’t see between gigs, I miss being shocked at the price of drinks, I miss ringing in my ears, I miss someone bringing back my son drunk to the caravan and I miss seeing my other son not representing team GB in the Paralympics. There is a light at the end now and I hope all this will be a memory soon. Where did the love of rock music begin for you? My love of rock began with a small HRH fave the mighty SAXON! I was listening to Queen, Michael Jackson, I remember singing a lot of Police tracks on the radio, anything in the charts really - then a friend pinched a tape off his older brother - the album Denim and Leather literally changed my life.

DARK circle - john hodgson

I became rebellious, arguing with teachers, not really giving a damn. Maiden and Priest, those were the gods that I followed, and I was fast becoming a teen who just lived to listen to rock, metal, louder and faster as the ‘80s rolled on – thrash metal, power metal, sleaze - anything that wasn’t the norm. Since then I have been fortunate to meet Biff and seen Saxon many times.

I think the craziest time in the venue was the first awards night! Oh my days, Cloven Hoof and Jaeger had people dancing in the aisles - ambulances called - Botty and others in bed before 7 - and when Skindred got up our shirts were too and the Newport Helicopter was rampant. The rest of the weekend looked like the Walking Dead had awoken.

And your favourite genre of rock? What or who really blows you away on stage? What blows me away eh? A bloody good party band, Alestorm! Smashed it at HRH Metal. The Virginmarys and Massive Wagons always get me bouncing. I’m not sure if it’s the band or the atmosphere - at the last HRH, during “Blink of an Eye”, Those Damn Crows had the crowd In their hands transfixed. It reduced me and Miggs to tears.

To date, who has been your favourite artist to appear at HRH? Airbourne, every time they bring the noise the atmosphere and leave me buzzing afterwards, so the last time they played Dylan (my son) and I got ourselves to the front, he quickly cut away from his old man to get in a pit, ah I wish I had the stamina! Anyways, you know the bit where they throw the beer into the crowd? Dylan, who by this time is on someone’s shoulders, catches the pint glass spinning in the air and drinks the beer - it’s even on YouTube - one of my proudest father moments, that’s my boy! Every year every HRH event brings me a WOW band from Alestorm smashing it up in Brum or to Massive Wagons at 12 in the afternoon playing to 10 people - their first time. I was at the bar hungover, as soon as they started playing I just thought these boys are special, proper bopping by the end - hangover gone.

I always say my favourite band is Helloween, but in reality, I base that opinion on 4 albums, so I don’t think power metal is my fave genre. I love FFDP and they always get me going, my son once said you like music with “whooo choruses and stupid songs” - normally about drinking! I like music to make me feel, and create feelings in me. I traverse all genres in and out of rock to help me achieve these feelings dependant on where and who I am with. I will always support the little guys the ones on the cusp of making it, so I’m gonna say my favourite genre is NWOCR! When was your first Hard Rock Hell Festival and what was it that made you attend? HRH IV! Airbourne, Helloween, Skid Row! And you ask what made me attend? What an outstanding lineup - Airbourne had my ears ringing, Helloween had me in the palm of their hands and Skid Row were awesome even though if memory serves right Scotti had a fall and hobbled off stage. So the real question should be how did I find out about a little known rock festival in 2007, before social media had really kicked in? I had no mates who were gigging really, occasional Downloads and bigger gigs. I came across an advert in Classic Rock, not really believing these great bands were playing at a run-down holiday camp in Wales! I talked two mates, Rob (he only came the one year) and Williams my drunking partner for quite a few years, into going. The journey was monumental from Yorkshire - Will who I should have trusted, but told him I am using my sat nav to get us there over mountains field and dale before we wound down a narrowing path to a farm only to be greeted by a sign stating “SAT NAV WRONG!” Tell the readers what it is about HRH that makes you want to keep coming back? That first year I went had me hooked. I met people I now call friends, I love the concept Jonni created, the bands he gets in and his vision, I understand ultimately he is there to make money but he has a passion for rock and really wants it to be kept alive. Without HRH I don’t believe as many festivals would be happening, and NWOCR would not exist. Without support from us fans, the bands fade away and we ended in the late ‘90s and early 2000s in a wasteland devoid of great bands. The ‘80s were a truly great time for bands and every town had its own venue, not so much now so for me to catch the new bands and support older ones HRH is the place. I have supported HRH and most of its variants - Prog, Metal, Ibiza, Blues, Hammerfest, Spring Break, SFW the only one missing is Vikings. The fans, the bands the organisers and of course Fleur is what makes me book every year! What is your craziest HRH memory to date? I’m sure you have many! You know what, I don’t have any crazy memories! Maybe it’s because of the alcohol consumed over the weekend I can’t remember. Once got the apartment raided by on-site security - to be fair we (Dave Hammer, Bitty, the Attica Rage boys, Will and I, we were having a bit of party and I seem to remember we didn’t have trousers on at one point, no idea why! The caravan parties with Billy and Tequila were always crazy! TEQUILA parties were awesome. Packed out places just full of beer and naughtiness.

Jon, as HRH November often takes place around Remembrance Sunday, how important is it to you that the HRH Team mark the occasion and, alongside the party times, remember and respect the fallen? Since HRH moved its timings somewhat to November, there were a couple of us who were either serving or former service people, who missed out on our annual remembrance parades. So we took it upon ourselves to have a quick meet up and raise a glass to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice to allow us to be there. Over the years word has grown and we have a Padre do a reading, the Exhortation being read and we play the Last Post and there is always a port toast (donated by those attending). You don’t need to have been in service to come along and remember, we never intended it to be a massive thing - but seeing different berets and medals worn makes me proud to have served and shows the diverse background us rock fans come from. It’s important to remember the past so that we learn from it and hopefully never repeat the atrocities that occurred in the great wars, a reminder than we have lost service people (and civilians) to conflicts even more recently and tragically in training also. We are the last generation with a family link to WW2 after us the memory will fade to be something in the back of a book. How much do we know about the English Civil War, the Jacobites? Me? Not a lot, but as long as I attend a remembrance day I will remember the devasting loss of life on all sides from more recent conflicts. A parade I have always been proud to attend. All that said I am still waiting on our bugler stepping forward, wetting his lips and playing the Last Post, no names no pack drill you know who you are What does being part of the DC mean to you Jon? Aside from the free pizza that is! Free pizza you say, mmmm, sorry I’m back in the room… the DC is my family a safe place where I can make a fool of myself with no judgement, a place where friendships are born that will last a lifetime. It’s a place to offer ideas and guidance to the organisers, what is current, what are future bands that need booking now, we are the eyes and ears on the ground for Jonni. It’s the voice of the whole HRH crowd to feed back on what works in the venues and what doesn’t. I think most of us thank Jonni at the end of events and give our positive and negative feedback, sometimes he just rips the piss out of us and tells us how it really is, he also knows what works. We are supporters of the HRH brand and ambassadors selling the event by word of mouth. It’s a camaraderie a group of people with a shared interest in music, festivals and good times. Lockdown has hit us all hard but I hope to see us all back in the Dark Family Circle soon. Double JD’s pepperoni Pizza and pre-festival bands, horns up!!!

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