After that belter of a debut album by Ashen Reach, there was no way I was going to miss this local gig. Upstairs at the notorious Giffard Arms is an intimate venue, but there’s always a warm atmosphere in the room. So with two bands on the bill tonight, who are gaining a large amount of attention lately, I joined my friends to watch Ravenbreed and Ashen Reach, the latter live for the first time.
Up from Cardiff, Ravenbreed are a four strong squad who have already graced the stages at festivals such as Breaking Bands, Loverocks and Hard Rock Hell. The EP from February this year forms most of the set and they fire up with the title track ‘Echoes’ which after the soft introduction blasts into a melodic punchbag of a song. Have to love the feel of this opener, there’s a low grating riff that crunches underfoot and the vocals from Luke Short are aimed high to even up the scales. There’s a treat up next as we sample the new single ‘Among Ghosts’ which drops on Friday 29th October. I won’t reveal too much, but you can be sure it’s nothing short of brilliance. ‘Pullin My Chain’ also from the EP, swaggers into action with a bending of guitar strings. The pulse increases and the track is one of constant drilling, a tinge of grunge and mood swings intertwine midway before the pounding returns and stays to the end. Another treat, well it is nearly Halloween, as Kyle Stanley from the headliners clambers on stage to duet with Luke for an exceptional cover of Audioslave’s ’Show Me How To Live’. Two cool vocalists with a song from Chris Cornell and that peeps was f**kin amazing. The last delivery is also off the EP, with strong bass effects from Ross Formosa and punishing sticks by Aggy Nowicka, ‘Wasted (Over You )’ is another that radiates post grunge. What an incredible sound, look out for these on the road. The new single is a must have and there is talk of a new EP in the pipeline.
Ashen Reach brought out one of the top albums of 2020 with ‘Homecoming’ in my humble opinion. Tonight we get to hear all of it, so will the live performance be as exhilarating ? For starters is ‘Fighting For My Life’ which you may have heard on the NWOCR CD, it has a catch of a riff that even more renown guitarists would envy. This is one hell of a song and the strength and passion pouring out from Kyle is immeasurable. A guitar solo by Paddy Cummins breaks up the middle eight and that itself is a sheer joy to witness. ‘Tear It Down’ has uncountable dimensions, sturdy guitars from Paddy and Joe O’Sullivan and the rhythm of drummer Jess Stanley back the melody, that oozes a sense of the exotic, while yet again listening to Kyle is pure joy. ‘Heir To The Throne’ chucks out a deeper attitude, more menacing and defiant. I am nodding to my friends at this point, as we are sharing something magical this evening. ‘Epiphany’ and the soul searching depth of ‘Prey’ follow and we are taken to a higher level. The softer introduction to ‘Here I Go’ allows gentle ripples to flow, before it crashes into a fully destructive dive. Superb bass from Mike McCarroll, actually he’s been faultless throughout as well. While ‘Hole In The Sky’ continues the caressing ambiance’, ‘Broken Column’ is a fret blasting, thrash loving anthem. Kyle encourages us to participate in moshing and the worthy winner gets a free t shirt. The eponymous track from the album, resonates with more direct hits and the overall effect is outstanding. They finish with the charismatic ‘Alive Again’ full of sumptuous guitar and kick arse drumming. Everything is turned to eleven, as the Liverpudlians close their set. For a band that has overcome sudden line up changes and to re-emerge even healthier with a frontman like Kyle Stanley, they deserve all the attention and credit due. I said to Kyle afterwards, it’s only a matter of time before you are on the Bloodstock stage and I will eat my proverbial hat if that fails to happen.
My ticket to see these two amazing bands was less than a tenner, I expect in 12 months my ticket for either of them will be considerably more. I recommend you get to see them as soon as possible, before it’s a view from way back in the crowd.
Please go to the bands socials for more info and to keep up to date on new releases and shows.
Photo Credit – Joe Stanley Photography Many Thanks