Thursday, 30 March 2017

Rob Halford- The Complete Albums Collection

Rob Halford
The Complete Albums Colection

Rob Halford's 'The Complete Albums Collection,' will be available to buy from May 19th 2017. The Albums Collection is a 12 album box set which showcases the solo work of Metal God and Judas Priest front man Rob Halford. It includes albums by Halford's solo project bands, Fight, 2wo and Halford.

Inside the blackened, cubed box-set you will find: -

K5: The War of Words Demos (recorded 1992, released 2007)
War of Words (1993)
Mutations (1994)
A Small Deadly Space (1995)

Voyeurs (1998)

Resurrection (2000)
Live Insurrection (2 CDs, 2001)
Crucible (2002)
Live in Anaheim (2 CDs; recorded 2003, released 2010)
Halford III: Winter Songs (2009)
Halford IV: Made of Metal (2010)
Live At Saitama Super Arena (2011)

You can pre-order the CD box set right here.

Words: Kayleigh MG

Monday, 27 March 2017

Live Review: Joe Lynn Turner at High Voltage, Copenhagen

An electric night in Copenhagen with Joe Lynn Turner.

After spending a little too long navigating the streets of Copenhagen, I arrive worried that the show would already be underway. Thankfully it hasn’t kicked off yet and with no support band I’ve got a whole night of Joe Lynn Turner to look forward to.
High Voltage is a big venue with plenty of bar space and cosy corners for chilling out. But right now, the action is all at the front of the room with a crowd gathered around the stage, eagerly awaiting the band’s entrance.
Soon enough my blood is set pumping by the chugging drum and guitar intro to ‘Death Alley Driver’. Joe Lynn’s voice is on point from the very first note. It soars over the crowd and it’s clear that time hasn’t claimed any of his range or power.  Guitarist Jorge Salán gets his first chance to show us how well he can handle Ritchie Blackmore’s famed prowess in a long and intricate solo. He pulls it off with a confidence that I’m sure even Ritchie himself would approve of.
The Rainbow fans in the room are in for a treat as we get a further five songs from the three studio albums that Joe Lynn recorded with the band. The familiar keys of ‘I Surrender’ fire up the room into a singalong which the band seem to really enjoy. Joe Lynn makes a point to get involved with his fans, making the show feel that bit more special. ‘Can’t Let You Go’ gives keyboardist Samuel Olsson time to shine with its classical opening. Joe Lynn’s haunting vocals are so full of emotion and it’s an all-round incredible delivery of the Bent Out of Shape classic.
'Miss Mistreated' takes the tempo up again. A true fist pumper which has me swinging my hips and screaming along. Joe Lynn and the rest of the band don’t miss a note. We’re still flying high over the Rainbow, as Difficult to Cure’s ‘Spotlight Kid’ really does have the crowd going wild. The band oozes energy in this fast paced ode to the rock star lifestyle. The run of Rainbow songs finishes with a powerful and touching rendition of the emotional ‘Stone Cold’ - another from Straight Between the Eyes.
After all of that, my voice is starting to crack (I’m sure to the relief of the lady in front of me) but there is no rest for the wicked! Joe Lynn announces that they are going to play something from Deep Purple’s Slaves and Masters. Like myself, anyone who wasn’t born at the right time to be attending gigs in the early 90s is unlikely to ever hear Deep Purple perform tracks from this record. The band launch into the intro to the album, the tension building... Joe Lynn really is a ‘King of Dreams’ giving us a perfectly smooth rendition of this soulful tune. Another Deep Purple track follows but this time, not one that was recorded with Joe Lynn on vocals. ‘Highway Star’ serves its purpose of getting the audience going. An obviously more well-known track than those from Slaves and Masters, it gets a good reception.
Two more Rainbow tunes, ‘Jealous Lover’ and ‘Can’t Happen Here’ are punctuated by some of Joe Lynn’s solo material. ‘Endlessly’ is a real crowd pleaser taking us right back to the eighties. ‘Blood Money’, by far the most recently recorded song of the set, takes things in a heavier direction that’s slightly reminiscent of Joe Lynn’s groovier work alongside Glenn Hughes on Hughes Turner Project.
To my utter delight, the distinct sound of 90s Deep Purple guitar and keys brings us into ‘The Cut Runs Deep’, the gritty vocals demonstrating how versatile Joe Lynn’s voice really is. Olsson lets loose on the keys for the second half of the song with plenty of air-keyboardists joining him.
Drummer Darby Todd takes us into Yngwie Malmsteen’s ‘Rising Force’. The band interact and bounce energy off each other as though they’ve been playing these songs together for years. Yngwie’s music really gives them all a chance to show off, with blistering solos on both guitar and keys.  Thinking that Joe Lynn’s voice had sounded perfect before, he takes it up a notch, absolutely blowing me away with his power and control over this technically demanding number.
It's clear that we haven’t had enough, so thankfully the band come back to end the night on a euphoric note. The atmosphere is electric as the magical first notes of ‘Dreaming (Tell Me)’ captivate a silent audience. The focus right now is all on Joe Lynn and for good reason. The toned-down ballad allows him to show us why he’s still regarded as one of the best rock n’ roll vocalists around.
The evening finishes with a super fun and high energy medley of Rainbow’s ‘Long Live Rock ‘n Roll’ and Deep Purple’s ‘Lazy’ with plenty of audience interaction getting everyone singing and dancing. Not least bassist Magnus Rosén and drummer Darby Todd who really can’t contain how much fun they’re having during their time in the spotlight, impressing us with some groovy and fast paced solos.  
It’s been a long set but it certainly doesn’t feel like it and I could happily watch it all over again. Joe Lynn is still on top form and has picked a fantastic group of musicians to showcase some of his best work. Roll on the next time!
Score: 5/5

Writer: Louise Dornan
Photography: Louise Dornan

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Live Review: Lita Ford and Rock Goddess at The O2, Islington

With Rock Goddess recently added as support to Lita Ford, what better way is there to cap off a weekend than to take a trip to Islington’s O2 Academy for a double bill of heavy metal and rock 'n' roll?

My Sundays are usually devoted to pies, mash and pints down the local boozer followed by an evening lazing on the sofa watching dodgy, unimaginative t.v shows. But tonight I’m taking a 50 minute walk (yes walk!) from east to north to see South London’s Rock Goddess and LA’s Lita Ford. Definitely a good enough reason for me to drag myself out of the standard Sun-daze.
In the past, I recall that the venue has not been very full before a supporting band comes on stage, however, the room is already packed to the brim with Rock Goddess fans. After their first re-union show here a couple of years back, there is still an air of excitement as the crowd wait for the power trio to take the stage. The ladies get straight in there, opening with 'Satisfied Then Crucified' and 'God Be With You'. Since that first show in 2015, it's immediately clear that they have been practising a lot; everything fits together perfectly. Jody Turner's tough vocals mixed in with an unsuspecting soft edge sounding as bright as they do on the Hell Hath No Fury album.
Whilst mixing tracks from the first two albums (including my absolute favourite 'Take Your Love Away'), we are hit by the new creative force coming from the band. 'Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right' and 'Back Off' both encapsulate the Rock Goddess sound with heavy metal street style riffs. Lead guitarist Jody is backed by the powerful rhythm section that is Tracey Lamb and Julie Turner, who each in turn provide secondary vocals. They are an absolute force to be reckoned with proving that a trio of musicians is all you need to create this hard and heavy sound. Much to our delight we learn that they have been in the studio working on an EP that's due for release in May, and honestly I can't wait. If the track 'Back Off' is anything to go by, it's going to knock our socks off.
Of course they finish the set with the anthems 'My Angel' and ‘Heavy Metal Rock n Roll’. The ladies have injected bolts of energy into the room, and personally speaking, I’m wondering how anything can follow this. A few moments pass and people are making their way to the bar to replenish the supplies, thinking that there is going to be at least 15-20 minutes of a stage changeover. However, just as i'm about to move from my prime spot, the girls come back on stage announcing that there is time for another tune, the first song that they recorded; 'Make My Night'. A splendid ending to a perfect set!

Fresh from an appearance at Hard Rock Hell AOR in Wales, Lita Ford is ready to take on London. Accept's 'Balls To The Wall', plays in the background as the final stage preparations are made, with the occasional member of the audience belting out the staunch chorus. As the rest of the band make their way on to the stage, an intro tape booms out of the speakers, setting the scene of a rebellious daughter revving up the engine of her dad's Ford, out to cause some trouble.
Confidently slinking onto the stage with a femme fatale swagger in a skintight red catsuit, Lita strikes her whiskey bottle shaped guitar, playing what sounds like the intro to 'Bad Motor Scooter' by Montrose, ending in a long high note. This seamlessly blends into the beginning riff of 'Gotta Let Go' from Dancin' On The Edge. The big American glam/heavy metal sound topped with Lita's hard as nails vocals fills the room, and I'm transported; fantasising about long road trips, dancing on table tops and generally having a good time.  I'm ripped from this chilled out vision when the punchy tune 'Larger Than Life' hits me in the face. Showing that she is essentially a lead guitarist, she rips out lick after lick on stage, sharing some of the duties with second guitarist Patrick Kennison.
Lita and her band include a wide variety of songs from her discography, including Elton John's cheerful uptempo number 'The Bitch Is Back'. Showing that she has many musical influences, we are teased with the intro lick to Hendrix's infamous 'Voodoo Child' featuring the Wah effect, before flowing into the deep southern rock style riffs of 'Relentless'.
Before a change of pace, Lita plugs her book, a memoir called 'Living Like A Runaway' which is followed with the nostalgic track of the same name. We've had a chance to slow down, before they plough back into older tracks such as 'Hungry' and 'Can't Catch Me' which starts with a choppy thrash like riff.
Bobby Rock and Marty O'Brien hold a deep soulful groove as Lita goes into the intro of 'Back To The Cave' before suffering from a guitar mishap. Professional as ever, Patrick takes over lead duties as she waits for another guitar to be handed to her, keeping the flow of the song. Unfazed by the swap, she dives straight back into the smooth intro, picking right off from where she left.
The audience lap up her story about how she came out with the song 'Falling In And Out Of Love' with Nikki Six, in the same "magical room" that she wrote 'Close My Eyes Forever' with Ozzy Osbourne.  It's a supercharged power ballad complete with equally supercharged solos.
Of course, being an original Runaway, the crowd would be disappointed if their most famous track wasn't included. Sure enough, 'Cherry Bomb' is next and she plays it so effortlessly, which is not a surprise at all. Capturing that mid to late 70s glam rock/punk sound, the momentum is prolonged with a cover of the Sex Pistols' 'Black Leather'. As if following a timeline of events, Lita asks the crowd if “we have time for three songs”, to which they reply positively as she introduces the first solo song she wrote 'Out For Blood', which saw her move more towards heavy metal in 1983. Swapping guitars yet again for a stunning white twin neck, 'Close My Eyes Forever' sees second guitarist Patrick Kennison duetting with Lita on that well known Ozzy collaboration with the crowd echoing the lyrics. The night is concluded with 'Kiss Me Deadly' on a more lighthearted note.
Now this is the way to do a Sunday and I have no doubt that everyone is leaving the venue feeling that we have been spoilt with such a rich lineup boasting of rock royalty.
You can buy Lita's Book 'Living Like A Runaway' here
Score: 5/5

Writer: Michelle Godding

Photography: Christophe Vernimmen

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Metallica Announce European Tour Dates

Metallica have released dates of the European leg of their "WorldWired" tour which supports the most recent album, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct. Norwegian metal band Kvelertak have been announced as the main support band for the European tour.

Metallica will be kicking off in Amsterdam on September 4th, before making their way around the continent. Check out the tour dates below: -

Sep. 04, 2017 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Ziggo Dome
Sep. 06, 2017 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Ziggo Dome
Sep. 08, 2017 - Paris, France - AccorHotels Arena
Sep. 10, 2017 - Paris, France - AccorHotels Arena
Sep. 12, 2017 - Lyon, France - Halle Tony Garnier
Sep. 14, 2017 - Cologne, Germany - Lanxess Arena
Sep. 16, 2017 - Cologne, Germany - Lanxess Arena
Oct. 22, 2017 - London, England, UK - The O2 Arena
Oct. 24, 2017 - London, England, UK - The O2 Arena
Oct. 26, 2017 - Glasgow, Scotland, UK - The SSE Hydro
Oct. 28, 2017 - Manchester, England, UK - Manchester Arena
Oct. 30, 2017 - Birmingham, England, UK - Genting Arena
Nov. 01, 2017 - Antwerp, Belgium - Sportpaleis
Nov. 03, 2017 - Antwerp, Belgium - Sportpaleis
Feb. 01, 2018 - Lisbon, Portugal - MEO Arena
Feb. 03, 2018 - Madrid, Spain - Wizink Center
Feb. 05, 2018 - Madrid, Spain - Wizink Center
Feb. 07, 2018 - Barcelona, Spain - Palau Sant Jordi
Feb. 10, 2018 - Turin, Italy - Pala Alpitour
Feb. 12, 2018 - Bologna, Italy - Unipol Arena
Feb. 14, 2018 - Bologna, Italy - Unipol Arena
Feb. 16, 2018 - Mannheim, Germany - SAP Arena
Mar. 27, 2018 - Herning, Denmark - Jyske Bank Boxen
Mar. 29, 2018 - Hamburg, Germany - Barclaycard Arena
Mar. 31, 2018 - Vienna, Austria - Wiener Stadthalle
April 02, 2018 - Prague, Czech Republic - O2 Arena
April 05, 2018 - Budapest, Hungary - Sports Arena
April 07, 2018 - Stuttgart, Germany - Schleyerhalle
April 09, 2018 - Stuttgart, Germany - Schleyerhalle
April 11, 2018 - Geneva, Switzerland - Palexpo
April 26, 208 - Munich, Germany - Olympiahalle
April 28, 2018 - Krakow, Poland - Tauron Arena
April 30, 2018 - Leipzig, Germany - Leipzig Arena
May 02, 2018 - Oslo, Norway - Telenor Arena
May 05, 2018 - Stockholm, Sweden - Ericsson Globe
May 07, 2018 - Stockholm, Sweden - Ericsson Globe
May 09, 2018 - Helsinki, Finland - Hartwall Arena
May 11, 2018 - Helsinki, Finland - Hartwall Arena

Got a fat wallet for tickets at around £90 a pop? We'll leave that to you to decide!
 You can buy general sale tickets here from Friday 24th March 2017.

Writer: Kayleigh MG 

Martin Turner, ex Wishbone Ash, to Perform 'Argus' in its Entirety

The founding member of Wishbone Ash and his band return for a 33 date UK tour

Ex Wishbone Ash bassist and vocalist, Martin Turner, has announced an extensive UK tour to commemorate the 45th anniversary of their critically acclaimed album Argus.  The Sounds Magazine's 1972 album of the year brought an innovative sound to the rock scene, influencing bands such as Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden with its twin lead guitar harmonies.

This will be welcome news for classic rock fans as Argus is well and truly imprinted into musical history with it's collection of medieval/folk inspired tunes.  Speaking about the tour, Martin Turner says: "I’m constantly being made aware how this album still resonates with people and holds a special place in their hearts, some 45 years after its release. This I believe is due to the strong melodic content of the music and the universal themes – everyone can relate to the lyrical references to time, space, war, etc".

The band will also be playing other standout Wishbone Ash songs as well as supporting their most recent album: Written In The Stars.

See UK Tour Dates Here

Writer: M Godding

Monday, 13 March 2017

Interview: RULER- Bringing Back the Glory Days

When you’re a fan of classic heavy metal and rock, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut listening solely to old releases from bands you can trust will provide something of good quality. Many will steer clear from newer music in fear of hearing over-produced, regurgitated rubbish. However, on occasion a current heavy metal band comes to your attention and brings some faith back into modern heavy metal. Ruler from Milan are one of these bands. Dedicating their sound to the glory days of heavy metal, it's apparent that the boys worship the likes of Iron Maiden and the NWOBHM, however they still manage to maintain a distinctive note-worthy sound of their own. Perhaps also due to the heavy influences of musical geniuses such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Ritchie Blackmore as well as the best in American and European heavy metal.

I first encountered Ruler in early 2015 when a friend recommended me their 2012 album Evil Nightmares. Hooked instantly, I was happy to see that just a few months later they had a gig planned at one of Camden’s hot spots- The Devonshire Arms. With immediately obvious brilliant musicianship; stage presence; lead solos and a high end vocal range of perfection, I had the feeling that I was watching a band from the early '80s. This was also confirmed by their exemplary choice of cover- Rainbow's 'Spotlight Kid'. 

With a recent line-up change and new album under their belt, I decided to speak with the boys to hear what they have in store for the future, and to also find out how Ruler took form.

Ruler in Switzerland, 2017

It was in late 2008 that guitar master Matt Baldoni and then bassist Paolo Pontiggia started their rehearsal room project. They discussed their influences and realised that it was time to bring their vision to life. Through common friends, they came across vocalist Dani Valentini. A singer whose range varies from the bluesy tones of David Coverdale, to the classic style of Bruce Dickinson and with the ability to soar as high as the likes of Stained Class era Rob Halford. After a rehearsal covering the likes of Saxon and Agent Steel, Baldoni knew he’d found 3 out of 4 pieces of his puzzle.

Matt Baldoni- Rhythm and Lead Guitar

Dani Valentini's unique vocal sound is certainly a key point for discussion. I was keen to know how one comes to realise that they can hit such ball breaking high notes. Dani told me it all began after being alone in the car listening to Mercyful Fate. “Naturally, you sing along, it would be blasphemous to not attempt the high notes. When I realised I could really go that high, like any teenage heavy metal fan, I wanted to be in a band! So, I kept training and practicing!”

With a session drummer who didn’t live up to the standards that the band was already hoping for, they searched for a permanent drummer. The boys agreed that “In Milan there always seems to be loads of guitarists, but not really many drummers or vocalists that really know their music and play with passion.” It was only later that year that they came across Rosario Alcaro. His ability, knowledge and passion was evident from the first rehearsal and so Ruler knew it was now time to begin shaping their dreams. 

In May 2011, they played their first gig at The Blue Rose Saloon in Milan. The boys exclaimed:“Oh man it was a great reception, lots of friends turned up to support us and they seemed to be blown away by the alchemy; we felt that the musicianship was so tight! We couldn’t wait for more.” They continued. “Soon after the first show we were overwhelmed by the reception we received from such a small crowd that we knew we had to continue. We bagged our second gig with Girlschool. Probably the hottest, most sweaty gig we’ve ever played but it was a really great achievement for us.”

They then went onto playing their 3rd gig where they caught the eye of production company ‘My Graveyard Productions’. “They offered us a contract and the opportunity to release our first record. We couldn’t believe it!" The album Evil Nightmares was released in April 2012 and quickly did the rounds across the heavy metal underground.

From there on, Ruler were offered the chance to play at some of Europe’s most esteemed underground heavy metal festivals, such as Up the Hammers; Metal Heads Open Air; Heavy Metal Maniacs; Headbangers Open Air and Brofest. They were also able to nab themselves some killer support slots opening up for revered heavy metal bands like Demon, Angelwitch, Raven, Helstar, Ostrogoth, Holocaust, Satan and many more.

In 2013, they released their second full-length album, Rise to Power- which is shielded by some truly phenomenal album cover art to shame even the richest of bands. Listening to this record, you'd be mistaken to think it was a hidden gem from the '80s. The guys had achieved what they felt was a“natural progression” with this album and brought a slightly more melodic, structured style to the table. Valentini’s vocals had clearly matured and he was displaying a more varied approach. The album still of course exhibits those classic Steve Harris bass gallops as well as the unmistakable guitar tone and emotive leads of Mr Baldoni.

In 2014, Ruler made their way over to Newcastle, UK to showcase their stuff at NWOBHM festival Brofest - a festival that successfully fuses both old and new bands together on one bill. Dani described the festival as “one of the best gigs we’ve ever done- we had such a fantastic response and reception from the crowd as well as other band members. It was amazing to see people banging their heads and singing along to our songs!" Matt completely agreed and stated that: "The response from the audience was incredible and as a musician, playing on that stage for the first time will forever be a pinnacle."

Shortly after this, Ruler went under a huge line- up change with original bassist Paolo’s journey coming to an end. However, in no time at all, the lads were back in business with Mirko Negrino joining the band. Being an Iron Maiden maniac, Mirko was the perfect replacement. Mirko talked to me about his influences and what got him into playing heavy metal: "Mr Steve Harris himself of course. His bass lines are the reason why I started playing bass. In my early years of playing I was greatly influenced by players like David Ellefson and Roger Patterson. Nowadays I’m totally addicted to Geddy Lee and Dave LaRue!"

In 2015, drummer Rosario Alcaro decided to part ways with Ruler, much to his and their sadness. He is however still very much part of the Ruler family and even helped the band recruit new drummer Steve Bianco. Coming with a history of playing both heavy and extreme metal, I asked Steve how he was able to use his experience to bring something more to Ruler's rhythm section. "I guess I'm proud of the fact that I can apply my skills from both sub-genres into my playing with Ruler! When I joined Ruler I was very happy to be playing heavy metal again! I love experimenting with my sound and incorporating the influences of my heroes: Neil Peart, Gene Hoglan, Dave Lombardo and Mikkey Dee... to name but a few!"

Ruler continue to tour and play over Europe and have done so recently in Spain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. They have recently finished recording their upcoming album Prisoners In Hell which showcases the distinctive Ruler sound but with some clear attempts at dabbling in more melodic sub-genres. Valentini's vocals on tracks like 'Queen of Danger' even display some Steve Perry-esque tones. It'll no doubt be a treat to hear how the rest of the album has panned out. I asked the boys what their "little universe" can expect:- 

“Fans can expect the usual classic vibe but there has definitely been a great leap in terms of composition, execution and arrangement. We feel there is a more personal, unique approach to this record. Though, we've still maintained our sound  and the influence of bands like Tygers of Pan Tang, Savage Grace, Malmsteen and Blackmore  but this new album really does deliver so much more. We want to come back with a vengeance!” Baldoni added: "I hope our listeners agree that the solos in particular have reached a new personal level and that they be judged without searching for similarities with other guitar players. That's very important to me."

Ruler have indeed enjoyed themselves and they've certainly achieved a good level of success within the underground scene. However, it's really about time that they received the recognition that they deserve. Currently lacking a record label and recovering from a bad experience with an amateur record producer has definitely created a few bumps in the road for Ruler, however, they will not be stopped. With Dani Valentini relocating to London, Ruler are hoping to continue their heavy metal journey in and around Europe.   

Here are some of our very favourite Ruler tracks: MaydayRise to Power, Mirror of Lies and Queen of Danger.

You can also keep up to date with Ruler's whereabouts here.

Writer: Kayleigh MG

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Live Review: Brofest #5 at Northumbria University Students Union, Newcastle

Brofest #5 Burns This Town

Day 1
As I make my way up to Newcastle on the 24th of February, the only thing that keeps me going throughout the nine hour bus ride is the prospect of two days of heavy metal heaven up in the Toon. It's that time of year again, when fans make the pilgrimage across country and continents (in some cases quite literally) to the home of Brofest.

After a harrowing journey north, it's an absolute relief to finally get to the venue. The student union is a stone's throw away from Newcastle City Centre, with the nearest Wetherspoons being only a few minutes' walk away.  

Five years running, Brofest is still going strong and the family vibe is immediate as old friends greet each other. Music really does bring people together and it's a beautiful thing to witness. The bar at the back of the hall is heaving, with ales and lagers being poured left, right and centre. Time to get a nice cold bottle of 'broon' in before the madness begins.

In the past, Brofest has boasted line-ups that mix fresh younger bands with veteran ones, with the aim to keep the spirit alive. This year is no different, as Southampton's Toledo Steel open the weekend's festivities with harmonised dual guitar attacks topped with operatic vocals.  Since their debut self-titled EP, released in 2013, followed by 2015's Zero Hour, the band already has a fair few gigs under their belts and take to the stage with full confidence.  They even throw in an cover of Grim Reaper's 'See You In Hell' as a penultimate number, setting the stage for London's Berlyn.

Toledo Steel (Photo by Liadh Ní Chéilleachair)

Back after a triumphant reunion show at 2014's Brofest, Berlyn commence with the frankly titled 'Don't Ever Laugh In My Face', encapsulating that cool, laid back sound of the era. Making sure they include all the songs from their 1982 demo, they also add later tracks like the rockin' 'Gonna Be Somebody'.
Mythra back in the day (Photo from

Another returning act is Mythra, coming a few miles down the road from South Sheilds. They've been playing shows across Europe since their 2015 reunion at Brofest, mixing in classic tracks such as 'Death and Destiny' and 'UFO' with more recently recorded ones. With a determination to continue their musical legacy, Mythra give us a taster of their anticipated new album due for release this April by High Roller Records, proving that they are Still Burning.

Mythra Live At Brofest

Battleaxe single 
(Photo from
The crowd has built up respectably by the time Sunderland's Battleaxe are 'Ready To Deliver'. Opening with 'Battleaxe', they are no strangers to the Brofest stage, having played twice before there.  They make sure to include songs from Burn This Town and Power from The Universe, with frontman Dave King anchoring the band with his formidable presence.

Friday's headliners Oliver/Dawson Saxon end the night with an absolute blinder of a set, performing all the classic Saxon tunes that the audience know and love including 'Denim And Leather'. Luckily there is no sign of any 'Nursery Crimes' as the hall is filled with the pure sounds of heavy metal. Original Saxon members, Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson appear to be in their element as the crowd sing along to 'Motorcycle Man' and 'Wheels of Steel'.  Seventh Son's Bri O'Shaughnessy delivers strident vocals.  

Graham Oliver at Brofest

Day 2
Festival regular Bob Moon was in attandence, bringing
his Red Moon Sales merchandise stall to the fest.
After a night of head banging followed by some questionable dance moves to Status Quo and Rainbow at the previous night's after party, returning to the venue in time for Saturday's openers Starborn is no mean feat.  The talented local youngsters draw inspiration from bands such as Blind Guardian to create a modern power metal sound.

As the hall fills up, the first reunion band of Brofest #5 to make an appearance is Blackmayne.  Known to have only recorded one album in 1985, the Kent based band warmed up for the show by playing a gig several days before at a local music pub in Gravesend. Making sure to include the title track as well as 'Twilight of Lear' and 'Hot Blooded Woman', new vocalist Jay Duke roared out the lyrics to these original tracks, as well as Saxon and Thin Lizzy covers. With the only founding members, Phil McDermott and Julian 'Sack' Sackett there for the reunion, Blackmayne go down very well, ending their set with the newer 'Chosen Few'. 

Stormtrooper single
Stormtrooper are the wonder of this festival, personally speaking. They're joined by original singer Nigel Lloyd.  This is a pleasant surprise as he had left the band prior to the recording of their first single.  For a band that has not played live together for a long time, everything is spot on. Colin 'Boggy' Bond works double duty, handling bass guitar as well as Moog Taurus pedals. With the new record Pride Before A Fall (The Lost Album) having been recently released on High Roller Records, fans are treated to several lost gems. Paul Merrell (later of Jaguar fame) sang on the original recordings, but this didn't matter on the day as Nigel Lloyd sang with such self assurance that he slots perfectly back in to his old band. They made sure to play both songs from their 1980 single; 'Pride Before A Fall' and the Deep Purpleesque 'Still Comin' Home'. Guitarist Bob Starling later states that this has been their first show in 35 years, much to our amazement.   

Stormtrooper live at Brofest.  Nigel “I ain’t dressing up like a f*ckin’ Christmas tree for no c*nt” Lloyd was right at home on stage supping on a can of Guinness.

The entire Mk.III line-up were present on
the day 

(Photo from Traitors Gate Official)
Halfway through Saturday, the thirsty heavy metal punters have depleted the venue's bottled ale supply, but the lack of this certain beverage doesn't dampen the mood. Long before the eagerly awaited Traitors Gate charge the stage, a line of front row bangers has formed, waiting at the barrier for a reunion show that many NWOBHM fans have been longing for. The lads from Pontypool get the crowd riled up with a couple of newer tracks. When they play 'Shoot To Kill' and the time-honoured 'The Devil Takes The High Road', the entire audience erupts into a sing along, encouraged to participate in the choruses by front man Dave Mclean.

Traitors Gate live at Brofest

Saracen single
Having postponed by one year, Saracen are another of Brofest #5's favourites. A five year gap in live shows, meant that the taster fans had gotten earlier at such festivals as British Steel (UK) and Keep It True (Germany) left them wanting more. Vocalist and front man Steve Bettney shows off superb vocals throughout the set, as they open with Change Of Hearts' 'We Have Arrived' and include tracks from the masterpiece Heroes, Saints and Fools. With a voice like that, and such lyrical mastery, it's no wonder they caught the ear of veteran rock DJ Tommy Vance back in the 80s, recording a session for the Friday Rock Show.

Some may have wondered about the placement on the bill of the next band Demon, having been a NWOBHM band that has been very active throughout the past decades.  Despite this, fans are ready to have 'One Helluva' Night', and it's clear that the band are one of the favourites, as everyone sings along with Dave Hill to class tracks such as 'Night Of the Demon', 'Don't Break The Circle', 'Liar' and 'Sign Of A Madman'. There is no doubt that they will continue to delight fans for as long as they continue to play.

Demon live at Brofest
Before Saturday's headlining band takes centre stage, the event gets an injection of something new in the form of Ghoul and High Spirits. Both on current UK tours at the time, it seems a strange choice to include Ghoul in the lineup. The comedy gore splatterthrash metal receive a luke warm reception initially which gradually increases as more people get into them. Spectators near the front should have brought a change of clothes with them as they are drenched in fake blood during the band's performance. High Spirits are more of a fit for the festival having played there before. One for fans of the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal sound, their new album Motivator hits the spot as they open with 'Flying High'. 

The penultimate band's set has left people literally in high spirits, ready to enjoy the final band of the festival, Tokyo Blade. They are one of the more well known NWOBHM acts, and having been re-joined with original singer Alan Marsh back in April 2016, Andy Boulton and co put on nothing less than a killer show. They get the crowd pumped with hits including 'Lightning Strikes' and 'If Heaven Is Hell', bringing Brofest #5 to a thundering close.

Tokyo Blade live at Brofest
Well, what can we say, except that it's been an absolute success of a festival.  A big applause to the Brofest lads for organising this classic event, five years in a row....bring on #6!  

Want to reminisce on Brofest memories?  Check out John Tucker's new book '5 Years of Brofest (UK)'

Score: 5/5

Writer: Michelle Godding

Photos By: Michelle Godding unless otherwise stated

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Interview: Neal Kay and the Heavy Metal Soundhouse

Kayleigh MG speaks with the legendary Neal Kay- DJ, band manager, sound engineer, promoter and creator of The Bandwagon Soundhouse. 

It was after some midday drinking in Bethnal Green whilst watching the Iron Maiden & the NWOBHM documentary, that we decided to continue the party. On our way to Soho's The Crobar, can of gin in hand, we dreamed of what it would have been like to be around during the time when NWOBHM was in it's prime and the likes of disc jockey Neal Kay threw club nights like the Heavy Metal Soundhouse and brought some of the best bands in Britain to the masses. 

We discussed how amazing it would be for someone to try and recreate the brilliant 'heavy metal discos' that Neal Kay used to bring to venues like The Bandwagon at Kingsbury Circle, London. Now a staple of British metal history, it was a complete Sanctuary (from the law) for dedicated music fans in London. We continued to grumble about the lack of underground heavy metal 'discos' in London today and then realised that there was no reason why we couldn't pull off such a stunt.

However, the quote that kept springing to mind was from one of The Bandwagon's most regular attendees, Rob Loonhouse.  "Women, you know, they don't really 'ave it in 'em... you find very few women down the front actually headbangin'.. they're quite content to sit at the back and sip their orange."  From this, we thought that we might start getting a few raised eyebrows from original Soundhousers...

After talking to many original attendees and searching high and low for photographs and videos, it turns out Mr Loonhouse may have been too busy plucking his wooden guitar to notice these "triple-decker headbangers" topped by Bev- an original Heavy Metal Soundhouser. Perhaps though, she was a rarity?

Intrigued, the journey continued. I (like many) wanted to know what it really was like being at The Bandwagon for Neal Kay's Heavy Metal Soundhouse, being only 28 years old - I could never have that first hand experience. So, what better way to really understand than by talking to none other than the man himself? 

It's just after 1am on a Friday night and I'm knackered after a long week of teaching. Part of me is wondering whether or not I can stay awake for what I thought would be a short (but very lucky) chat with Mr Neal Kay. However, the second I heard the infamous, entertaining and powerful tones of Neal Kay's voice I was awoken instantly and thrown into the life of a legend. It's not just your average question/answer interview but instead Neal educates me on why his love for music escalated so rapidly and why he dedicated his life to bringing what he described as "dedicated maniacs" together as a family.

From a young age, Neal knew that he was destined to entertain in one way or another. It wasn't until a very young Neal received a reel to reel tape deck as a gift from his grandfather that he knew it would be associated with music. As Neal grew, so did his love and knowledge for music. He became heavily inspired by the real sounds of the 50s; the growth of "rock freedom" and in particular disc jockey and father of Rock 'n' Roll, Alan Freed.

In the late 60s, Neal's career as a DJ was beginning to boom. He worked in clubs around London and eventually traveled around West Berlin with his then dancer wife. It wasn't until the mid-70s that Neal had the opportunity to play 'rock' at The Bandwagon. Here, he began to develop his own Heavy Metal Soundhouse which gave birth to "The Soundhouse Nation". Ignited by passion; supported by a wealth of knowledge and a whopping great sound system of 9000 watts, the Soundhouse was set for a success.

As people traveled from around the UK to get to the Kingsbury Circle, Neal knew something huge was happening and so roped in Sounds Magazine journalist Geoff Barton to come along and take a look at the packed out venue. This publicity caused an even bigger eruption and what with heavy metal royalty such as members of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Rainbow and Ted Nugent (plus so many more) in attendance- who's surprised? The publicity grew and grew with coverage from a range of huge publications. Neal expressed though, how it was heartfelt editorials from music journalists like the esteemed Malcolm Dome that really made the difference.

Neal described the explosion of the Heavy Metal Soundhouse as an "unplanned natural progression" and went on to explain that he felt as if he'd been blessed by the gods. It was regular attendees that made the night what it was, with people like fan leader Ian Aidey attending each week dressed in full Angus Young get-up, alongside his girlfriend who got blood pumping as she too dressed in full schoolgirl gear.

We have been trying to recreate this community feel at our own Heavy Metal Soundhouse, and so I was keen to know the trick to getting the party going. Neal explained the importance of starting off slow and low and once the hall was filling up, his instincts would tell him when it was time to turn up the volume, set the light show on the dance floor and blow people away. He'd do this with huge numbers like Meat Loaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell' or Rainbow's 'Kill the King'. This would cause a surge of people to the dance floor- power sliders, air guitarists, dancers and headbangers. It's no surprise then that Neal described entering the Soundhouse as "walking into heaven."

The Bandwagon Soundhouse has gone into history as a NWOBHM haven, but was is it mainly NWOBHM that Neal used to play? I'd heard that he used to dabble in playing AOR, classic rock and even blues, so I was keen to know if this was true. "You're absolutely right. Variety is the key and back then rock was rock." He clarified. "I played everything from Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Scorpions to Journey, Foreigner and Styx as well as a load of prog like Rush. I used to even throw a few jokey tracks into the mix as well, that would really get people's attention. It's good to throw a bit of humour in. I'd do the same when I was talking to the fans over the PA you know? I'd randomly shout things out like: 'oi your flies are undone!' to get their attention. Crowd participation too- all really important to make your audience feel like you're communicating with them on a 1:1 level." To end every night, Neal would send the Soundhousers off with none other than Lynyrd Skynrd classic 'Freebird' but I wondered if Neal remembered the first track he spun as a rock DJ. It was of course Peter Frampton's 'Do You Feel Like We Do?'

I wanted to know more about this crowd participation. It all felt very bizarre to me to have crowd participation at any metal gig. Neal, however, took this to a whole new level. There were air guitar competitions and even 'Headbanger of the Year' where fans would print t shirts, make props and plan synchronized routines to perform to their favourite song in front of an all-star panel which included band members from Iron Maiden's Steve Harris and more. Neal belly laughed as he recounted a time where a group of guys performed to Judas Priest's 'Exciter'. As the plastic 'frontman' sang the lyrics "fall to your knees and repent if you please!", he was met by none another than Judas Priest's Rob Halford looking at him, nose to nose. What an experience that must have been for these "dedicated maniacs!" It's no surprise that they wanted to return week after week.

Of course, it was all very important to provide these music fans with the opportunity to let loose and enjoy the freedom of heavy metal and rock. However, what was really most important was the ability that Neal to gave to new, young, underground bands in the scene. The most classic example would of course be the emergence of the legendary Iron Maiden. Neal described to me the way in which he felt in 1978 when Steve Harris handed him the phenomenal 'Prowler' demo tape. He then interrupted our conversation to show me it in the flesh. A small, tape cassette with Steve's handwriting scribbled on the front. Pure gold. Soon after this, Neal Kay booked Iron Maiden to play at the Music Machine (now Camden Town's Koko) with Angelwitch and Samson. Really, the rest is beautiful history. Neal reminisced about playing the demo to the Soundhouse crowd for the very first time: "It was unbelievable. Everyone went mad and it then stayed in the Soundhouse charts for 3 months!" Neal had put Maiden on the map and on the road.

Iron Maiden outside The Bandwagon

Kay continued to work with some huge names in rock. Sammy Hagar, Saxon, Praying Mantis and Motorhead to name but a few. He promoted shows, gigs and new releases and was one of the first touring DJs. Neal expressed to me that one of his fondest memories as a DJ was his set as DJ and MC at Castle Donington's Monsters of Rock. He looked out into the sea of people and although he didn't feel nervous he did feel humbled as it warmed his heart to see that in the front 10 rows or so, were his fans from the Bandwagon Soundhouse. Now that's dedication and loyalty.

Neal Kay knew just how to use music to bring people together. He didn't just run a heavy metal club night for the sake of doing so, or even for the profit (albeit not very much). He did so to create a community and a place where like-minded people could go to immerse themselves in music and the lifestyle that he valued so very much. He fed their interests, he ignited their passions and as a result gifted them with new bands to enjoy and most importantly memories that they'd never forget. He gave underground bands the opportunity to thrive and be noticed and if it wasn't for him, who knows if we'd even have the vast choice of brilliant NWOBHM that we do today.

The term "born too late" has never been so relevant to me as it is after my conversations with Neal Kay. By the end, my cheeks hurt from smiling, my stomach full of excitement and alight with passion. Neal Kay was and still is a truly inspiring, exceedingly knowledgeable man with so many layers. A true asset to the music business. 

Writer: Kayleigh MV

Photo Credit: Heavy Metal Soundhouse