MMC III

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 13th December 2014.

When it comes to catching up with the mighty powerful metal scene in the Midlands, then today’s event is exactly the kind of gig that strives and succeeds in airing the best of the best. The Christmas frenzy was in full swing and I was expecting a festive surprise or two today as Santa would inevitably be dropping in aswell, so time to get this, the third Midlands Metal Crusade, on the road!

Slaughter Horse had the prestigious honour of being first band on stage today and even though they found themselves playing to a smaller audience than I would have expected, there was no holding them back from delivering a thoroughbred performance to all those present.

Next up on stage and a new experience for me where The Final Chapter who hail from the Rugby area. Jake Barnes makes for a mean metalcore vocalist and last song of their set was the killer track ‘Papyrus’ which quite frankly left such an impression, that I had to go find it later online. I’m pleased to report that even though this is one of their earlier songs and can be found on their July 2013 EP release’ Illusions’, it’s still out there – so what ya waiting for – go check it out for yourself!

Jake Barnes - The Final Chapter

Silence The Weak are a right chatty bunch and why not indeed, as not only was today about great music, but it was also about good times aswell and these metal core maestro’s certainly made a great connection with the growing audience at The Slade Rooms. Tonight’s set was to include their last ever live rendition of Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ and shame on them I say, as their version makes for much better listening, so here’s hoping for a few more airings of it in 2015!

Jake Webb - Silence The Weak

With the recent departure of their permanent lead singer, Ant Collins, the show was most definitely still going on for Rogue Reflection and it was an absolute pleasure to see none other than James Mills from Hostile UK picking up the mic for them tonight. 1’ve not seen or heard Rogue Reflection before as they are relatively new to the scene, but if the set they played tonight is anything to go by, then watch out for them in the new year as many good things can be expected from Rogue Reflection.

Well, one thing for sure, Eyes Of The Raven always make for a welcome sight on any stage as far as I’m concerned as these guys always keep it real and just play it straight from the heart! And what a sight they were to behold tonight with Dave ‘Santa’ Horan and his elves having donned their best bibs, tins and tuckers especially in honour of this festive event. Even with the challenge of unsolvable technical issues for Craig Preston on bass, the band played on and much respect to them all for that!

Dave Horan - Eyes Of The Raven

Next to take to the stage were Our World Below? and Dave Riley and the band like several others on today’s line up, are firm favorites of mine. Having seen them play on several occasions over the past couple of years, their style and their strengths just seem to become more engrained with each performance played. Tonight’s set easily followed in that same vein and with a tour in the planning for 2015, best make sure you get yourselves out to one of their gigs – I promise you won’t be disappointed!

You know that ‘WOW’ factor that some bands just ooze out by the gallon, well The Heretic Order are one such all consuming entity! Sitting and watching their stage being set up, was a bit like watching an Edgar Allan Poe story unfold and as the band took to the stage, I wasn’t to be disappointed, as the hooded form of Danny Felice (Breed 77) was enough to stop everyone in their tracks! With the same level of attention to detail put into their ‘Evil’ rock ‘n’ roll, as is to be found in their stage presence, The Heretic Order are a band that will capture you attention and will not be forgotten!

Lord Ragnar Wagner - The Heretic Order

It was only to be expected that Destroyed Beyond Belief would make their set today memorable in every way possible, by my oh my, never in my wildest dreams did I expect my eyes to behold such a festive bevy of Christmas characters – just imagine this.…. a Christmas Tree, a Christmas pudding, a turkey (complete with drumsticks hohoho), Santa Claus, an elf and last but not least, the gawwwjus Ms Sean Westwood sporting a snazzy Christmas frock that seemed to defy gravity on numerous occasions!! I could tell you how good their set was but these guys never leave the stage after anything less than a top notch performance, tonight however, Destroyed Beyond Belief were true hero’s and for me, were the highlight of the day.

Sean Westwood - Destroyed Beyond Belief

Well, today has certainly been one hell of a day and with it’s greatness drawing to a close, it was time for our headlining band of the day, Seven Deadly to take to the stage. Bringing an onslaught of synth laden melodic thrash metal to the Slade Rooms, was such a great way to sign the Crusade off and at the time of seeing them perform, I don’t think anyone anticipated that this was to be their last gig ever but sadly it was, so that was definitely one Christmas present I was glad to have been given.

Archie Wilson - Seven Deadly

The Midlands Metal Crusade continues to grow and plant its feet firmly in the heart of the metal community. With this time of year being a much loved time of the year for many but a time of great difficulty for others, the heart of the metal community beat loudly today in support of the local charity and food bank, Abigail’s Larder. With a raffle raising a tidy sum and several of the bands involved donating to the cause aswell, Christmas was hopefully a little brighter for some, so roll on the next venture of the Midlands Metal Crusade and good times ahead wished to all.

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.

HRH9

HRH9

Saxon head the onslaught for this year’s Hard Rock Hell 9.

Hard Rock Hell, aptly titled ‘House of Horrors’, which is now in its 9th cycle are pleased to welcome Heavy Metal Titans, Saxon back into their realm of mayhem by popular demand from the HRH Fans. It will be 5 years since their last visit and this year’s set will be a 2 hour jaw dropper. With a mammoth back catalogue that stretches back to 1976, even with 2 hours it will be difficult to fit enough in.

Joining Saxon will be 80’s all-female NWOBHM Vets, Rock Goddess, who have recently enjoyed a positive resurgence and are looking forward to grace the stage in front of the HRH Loyal. Another band which have been ordered in by popular HRH fan demand, are the unstoppable Black Spiders, who just seem to be hitting every part of the globe with their Hard Rock sound.

HRH are renowned for plucking some gems out of far flung territories and the first one to be announced this year with a huge injection of Psychedelia are Swedish Heroes Skanska Mord.

Keeping things Swedish, we are also pleased to welcome Swedish rockers Riot Horse to the proceedings.

Completing the first announcement are Outlaw Biker Rockers, Pig Iron who have just signed to sister label, Off Yer Rocka Recordings.

HRH 9 will be held at its base Camp HRH, Pwhelli, Gwynedd , North Wales 12th / 15th November 2015. Day Passes have now been released and can be booked at www.hardrockhell.com/tickets/

TOTO

TOTO XIV

Few ensembles in the history of recorded music have individually or collectively had a larger imprint on pop culture than the members of Toto. As individuals, the band members can be heard on an astonishing 5000 albums that together amass a sales history of a HALF A BILLION albums. Amongst these recordings, NARAS applauded the performances with more than 200 Grammy nominations.

With over 38 years together and thousands of credits and accolades to their names, Toto remains one of the top selling tour and recording acts in the world. They are the benchmark by which many artists base their sound and production, and they continue to transcend the standards set by the entire music community, being simply synonymous with musical credibility.

Toto has been hard at work in 2014 on a new studio album, their first since “Falling In Between” (2006). Keyboardist and founding member David Paich recently shared, “The repertoire is coming together so naturally it is as though we never took a break from creating as Toto in the studio. For the fans who have been waiting patiently and continually showing the band support and love over the last decade or so, this one’s for you”.

TOTO - Photo by Heather Porcaro

The band is not afraid to take their chances and stretch their songwriting abilities. Certainly this is an amazing album which encompasses flawlessly Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Progressive. The band includes now original members Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro and sees also the return in the fold of the original bass player David Hungate. Joseph Williams (singer on “The Seventh One” and “Fahrenheit”) returns to handle lead vocals, while Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting) now sits behind the drumkit.

In 2015, Toto will embark on a massive world tour where they will unveil some songs from their new album, share some deep tracks from past Toto albums, and perform all the hits their fans have come to love and expect.

Deluxe edition comes in ecolbook format, including an expanded booklet featuring a 3,000 words essay with exclusive interviews, exclusive pictures and a bonus DVD including a documentary “Making of” the album.

Box set edition includes deluxe edition cd/dvd, exclusive t-shirt (L size only), 2LP, poster and lithograph.

TOTO
Joseph Williams – lead vocals
Steve Lukather – guitars, bass, vocals
David Paich – keyboards, vocals
Steve Porcaro – keyboards, vocals
David Hungate – bass
Keith Carlock – drums
Lenny Castro – percussion
Tom Scott – saxes and horn arrangements
Lee Sklar, Tal Wilkenfeld, Tim Lefebvre – bass
Martin Tillman – cello
CJ Vanston – additional synths
Michael McDonald, Amy Keys, Mabvuto Carpenter, Jamie Savko, Amy Wlliams – background vocals.