Gig Review: King Kraken / Straight For The Sun / Six Sins Till Sunday – The Redhouse Cymru, Merthyr Tydfil (28th January 2023)

The culmination of months of hard planning. A social media campaign which would put Donald Trump’s team to shame. The drip release of four singles, numerous interviews and a series of reviews that were virtually unanimous in their praise. It’s finally time for the album launch party for South Wales’s mean, green cephalopod, King Kraken. The beast has hardly been dormant, but as 200 fans sell out the event weeks in advance, you know this night will be something special. There’s electricity in the air, conversation is animated, fans and band mingle with laughter, drinks flow, merchandise is gobbled up quicker than the turkey at Christmas.

Six Sins Till Sunday (c) Paul Hutchings

Organised by The Grumpy Clown Ceri Davies, who wears the air of a man who will sleep well after its all over, it’s very slick. The 20 or so VIP guests enter the magnificent civic building early. We are treated to a soundcheck, a Kraken Rum miniature and a Kraken cup cake. A couple of goodies in the shape of a signed posted and laminated lanyard, and first crack at the bar. The band are in good form.

As the general admission crows swarm into the building and start to pillage the bar and merch stall, opening band Six Sins Till Sunday finished their line checks and launched into their opening number. The chilling tolling of the bell signalled the start of “Bring Out Your Dead”, and with a stomp of a size 12 boot, the Plymouth quintet blasted off. Led by the non-stop energy of dreadlocked singer Chris Newman, whose weapon of choice appears to be crowd intimidation, the band bring a thick, Southern groove, with their influences evident in their sound. Plenty of Pantera, and much Rob Zombie in evidence, the latter unsurprising given the band also play as a Rob Zombie tribute.

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Straight For The Sun (c) Paul Hutchings

They get things moving with short, snappy songs. A cover of Mr Zombie’s “Electric Head” is unsurprising, whilst the penultimate medley of “Blind”, “Sugar” and “Sad But True” leaves an equal number in the audience smiling and bemused.  Six Sins Till Sunday are engaging, their songs punching hard and whilst they certainly plunder the book of heavy metal clichés, you can’t help but smile thanks to their well-constructed songs. I’d last seen them at The Gryphon mere weeks before lockdown and they have improved immeasurably. The crowd respond to Newman’s constant cajoling, and by the closing track “Allegory of the Cave”, the band has earned multiple new fans.

As the main room filled up, it was Birmingham’s alternative metallers Straight For the Sun who took over the baton. Charged with keeping the temperature at the level that Six Sins Till Sunday  had set, they do a decent job. Again, it’s the vocalist who keeps the crowd engaged and Callum Green’s enthusiasm is infectious. They may not have the most memorable songs in their arsenal, but Straight For the Sun are a competent bunch, with some decent musicianship on display. Alongside Green, it’s the white vested bass work of Oz Jackson who also catches the eye. “Scapegoat” stands out, as does penultimate track “Sirens”. There are singalongs, plenty of audience participation, and a humbleness that is endearing. By the end of their set, it’s more smiles all round and a solid ovation recognises the effort that has gone into the band’s set. Another band who’ll get a warm welcome when they return to Wales.

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The room is packed, many clad in the green t-shirts, hoodies, and hats of King Kraken. The band enter the stage as a nautical theme plays over the PA. They are afforded a hero’s welcome. It’s well deserved. They’ve invested heavily. Illuminous tentacles twelve-foot-high flank the stage, whilst their new backdrop is magnificent. Across the stage are various knitted cephalopods, a reminder that whilst they may be getting airtime on Planet Rock and reviews in Metal Hammer, this is a band whose heart beats strongest in their valley’s stronghold.

King Kraken (c) Paul Hutchings

They play all MCLXXX. It sounds huge. Drummer Richard Lee Mears has brought out his huge drumkit, ‘Big Bird’. He’s up on a platform, pushing his colleagues along with a punishing pace. Their songs are fast on the album, live they move up another gear. “Devil’s Night” and “Bastard Liar” see many of the audience singing along word for word. Impressive given the album was only officially released the day before. Old favourites “War Machine” and “The Grey” remind us of those earlier days whilst “Under the Sun” has the venue gripped.

Kraken are tight. Composed, focused, but also able to soak up the moment. It’s a celebration and everyone is having fun. We even get an impromptu stage dive by an over excited fan, whilst the final song of the set “Castle of Bones” sees the night’s only crowd surfer crash onto the stage. There are a few thank you’s as well. Presents to Ceri Davies for organising the evening, and to the team who run the band’s Facebook fan page. They’ve been relentless in their promotion of the event.

As vocalist Mark Donoghue urges the crowd to join in on “Chaos Engine”, the room is bursting with energy. You could power the town from it. Called back for a deserved encore of “Freak”, the night is won. It’s a triumphant and memorable evening. The buzz around the venue is indescribable, but it’s evenings like this that make rock memories. Up close and personal, it’s evenings like this that are what rock and metal shows are all about for me. Keep your arenas, this is where our music lives and breathes. But the world better watch out, for the Kraken refuses to be constrained. Those arenas may not be that far away.

Photos by Paul Hutchings

King Kraken: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

Straight For The Sun: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

Six Sins Till Sunday:  facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify | youtube

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Nigel Edmunds
February 2, 2023 8:22 PM

Great stuff valleys boys doing good !