Metal Madness in Reading

Not long returned from my short break in Reading with Mrs 80smetalman. We spent the Saturday afternoon at The Oracle, which is Reading’s big shopping precinct. While there were many eating places along the Thames River, which runs right through the precinct, we wanted to get out of the rain and went straight for the mall. With her ability to sense out these places, my wife found the Lush shop and added to her collection of bath stuff. We can also say that Lush staff are super friendly wherever you go. After that, we hit a few places in the mall, had dinner and then returned to the hotel where I prepared for big night at the Face Bar, where I was invited to attend the launch party for Black Emerald’s debut album, “Hell Can’t Handle All of Us.”

After a couple of detours down some dead end side roads, I found the Face Bar without any real trouble. On the outside, it looks like any other rock club I’ve been to and probably on the inside too. However, the first honour done to me on the evening was when I announced who I was on the guest list, the people at the door seemed to be expecting me. Once inside, I met Sharon, the mother of Black Emerald’s drummer as well as the bassist/lead vocalist’s father, who incidentally, was the one who gave me the Black Emerald demo CD at Bloodstock 2013 and told me to go check them out at the New Blood Stage. A recommendation I will forever be grateful for.

Sharon and me. Sharon worked her socks off to make sure the evening was top notch. Full marks to her!

Four bands were on the card this night and the first one on stage was Remnant. Here’s one band you can’t pigeon hole in any way. Remnant are a mix of thrash, groove and a few more genres of metal. They have dual male/female vocalists who share the duties but unlike say Amy Lee of Evanescence or Live Christine of Leaves Eyes whose vocals are very melodic, Tori Walter’s vocals are just as gritty as her male colleague Lee Gordine. Another gender stereotype broken here resulting in a one-two vocal punch that doesn’t let up. Both do a great job but what impressed me the most about this band was the lead guitar work of Andy Gunn. When you weren’t getting pounded by the two vocalists, he shredded in spectacular fashion. All of the combinations worked well together to make one great sound. It was a great way to begin the night!

Remnant begin the festivities

Tori and Leigh on the vocals

Andy Gunn shredding away

FFI on Remnant, go to: http://www.remnantuk.co.uk/

The next band up was Thirty Giants, however, I never saw 30 giants go onto the stage. What I saw was four men who knew how to play heavy metal. Thirty Giants have a style I’ve become quite fond of in my waning years. They come out with some powerful metal during the verses only to go slightly more melodic while singing the choruses to their songs. Luca Cossu handles most of the vocals and does a great job with it but he has some good support from bassist Sam Yard. Meanwhile, Dave Gilburt does most of the lead guitar duties and solos very well but Luca does lend a hand at times on the guitar. They did do a solo trade-off on one of the songs and I always am impressed when that’s done well, which it was. My biggest impression of Thirty Giants was that I am convinced I heard a little Asphalt Ballet influence in a couple of their songs and that made me like them even more.

You can hear some of their offerings here: https://thirtygiants.bandcamp.com/releases

Luca and Sam begin things for Thirty Giants

Guitarists Luca and Dave wailing.

Luca on the vox

Dave plays a solo

Anyone thinking that after the first two bands, they might have a reprieve, they were completely wrong. Up next was Gutlocker, who set out to pound the ears of everyone in the Face Bar with their brand of sludge metal. Lead singer Craig McBrearty has the power and range in his voice as well as the charisma of a good front-man, while the other three members did a great job in supporting his vocal efforts with power chords, thumping bass and drums. They might have only been on stage about thirty minutes by they let you know they were up there that entire time.

To hear more, go to: https://soundcloud.com/gutlocker1

Craig with guitarist Peter Tucker

Peter and drummer Dean Walker

Bassist Ben Rollinson

Three bands had come and gone. Three different styles of metal, all of which were completely enjoyable. Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t say anything about the rhythm sections of any of the bands. That’s because I would have been repeating myself three times. I can safely say that the rhythm sections for all three bands were spot on. All three bands also did a great job warming things up for the main event. After all, this was Black Emerald’s evening.

The atmosphere was almost electric by the time Black Emerald took the stage. I could have been back at the old Philadelphia Spectrum in the 1980s seeing such greats as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister or Dio. It was like that. The first thing I noticed when they took the stage was that while I said how good they were in 2013, they were miles better four and a half years later! Edd Higgs’s shredding had come on leaps and bounds and the vocals of Simon Hall sounded even better. Plus Simon and Connor Shortt had become an even more tighter rhythm section and I was very impressed with Connor’s drumming. They played their entire album, including the song “Dr Stein,” which I uploaded from  Youtube when I announced they were cutting an album. Plus, they played the songs from their demo, all of which I liked. During the set, Craig from Gutlocker came on for a guest vocal slot and it proves the versatility of this band, that they were able to fit their sound to his vocals. Just as good was when Andy Gunn from Remnant came up to play guitar on “Voodoo Princess.” It was a treat hearing Andy and Edd shred together on this song. When they announced their last song, the nearly ten minute long, “Jonestown,” I couldn’t believe that more than an hour had passed. Black Emerald were fab!

Edd shredding

Simon on bass and vocals

Connor on the drums

Craig on stage with Black Emerald

Simon working some more magic

Andy shredding with the band

Another shot of Edd

Simon has the pipes

Don’t forget Connor

Here’s an interesting observation. You hear all the time of parents disapproving of their children’s interest in playing music. Hell, even John Lennon’s mother told him that playing guitar was a nice hobby but it wouldn’t get him anywhere. Boy, was she wrong! Therefore, it was great to see the parents of the members of Black Emerald, truly supporting their sons. Special kudos goes to Sarah, (Connor’s mum), who worked tirelessly throughout the evening, helping to make it so good.

When I left the Face Bar, I began to ask myself: “Is Reading an unknown mecca for metal?” True, the other bands weren’t from Reading but close enough. Thirty Giants were the furthest away coming from Brighton. If it is, I must go there more. There was one more surprise in store for me. I went to purchase “Hell Can’t Handle All of Us” before I left but Sarah told me to hold on. Moments later, she returned with a goody bag which featured the CD, a flier signed by the band, a Black Emerald coaster and a Black Emerald mug! That was a nice surprise and I thank the band for it and all the bands for a great night of heavy metal in Reading.

My goody bag. Note: when I didn’t need to buy the Black Emerald CD, I bought Remnant’s one.

 

Next post: Black Emerald- Hell Can’t Handle All of Us

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 Responses to “Metal Madness in Reading”

  1. Sounds absolutely brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a great night! I really like that goody bag touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a Helluva time! And a goody bag thrown in, too!? Amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Mrs 80smetalman” hehe! Glad you both enjoyed the trip 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, what a stellar night! And all done with class and the power of the metal community. So much greatness. RIGHT ON!! \m/ \m/

    Liked by 1 person

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