Hils Ovation

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 18th June 2016.

It’s been quite a while since our last trip to the Slade Rooms but tonight’s Hils Ovation show certainly has a lot to offer with performances lined up from Evil Empire, Stranger In Death, Master Charger, Our World Below? and ultimately, My Brother, The Wolf.

And if you want to get a night off to an energetic start then Evil Empire are just the band to do it, as their formidable front man Dave Gwinnutt stands still for no-one. Following on from their recent album release of ‘To Punish And Enslave’, the band’s set tonight included several tracks from it, with ‘Gallows Call’ reigning down quite a hearty helping of groove metal which hit just the right spot with the Slade Rooms audience. It was also great to see how well this band gel together on stage and if that isn’t also a crucial ingredient of their success then I don’t know what is!

Dave Gwinnutt - Evil Empire

Our second band of the night were none other than Stranger in Death and according to legend, if you say the name ‘Beetlejuice’ three times, Mike Mooney will appear and sure enough, there he was – in one of the most spectacular purple suits you could ever wish to imagine! Stranger In Death are quite an experience to see live and have an impressive talent in the song writing department aswell, with ‘I Am The Hunter’ being a particular highlight of their set tonight.

Mike Mooney - Stranger In Death

The next band to take to the stage have consistently been creating quite a talking point on the music scene and are a band that I’m just a little bit chuffed to be able to finally catch live – that band being Master Charger. This bearded trio have a glorious depth to their sound that captures a multitude of heaviness which sits way beyond what you would expect a trio to be capable of and all of which just seems to roll out with natural born ease. If you’ve not checked out Master Charger before then I strongly advise that you do as they’re definitely a band to remember!

John James - Master Charger

It’s been a busy few weeks for Our World Below? with the recent release of their brand new EP ‘Dwarf The Earth’ being a definite highlight and tonight, there was certainly a feeling good factor evident up on stage. Even with a few technical difficulties and a drum kit desperate to escape the grasp of powerhouse drummer Jack Skilton, I would happily say that tonight, Our World Below? were on their best form ever!

Jack Skilton - Our World Below

With our headlining band My Brother, The Wolf just about ready to take to the stage, it was quite obvious that there were a fair few people in the audience who were looking forward to their set and the band quickly set about proving why.

Pete Jorkowski - My Brother, The Wolf

There is a healthy groove in the metal of My Brother, The Wolf that is fuelled by the duel attack of guitars, courtesy of Jay Rogers and Dan Wynne-Jones and superbly backed up by the rhythms of Pete Jorkowski on bass and Chris Conyon on drums. Much credit also needs to go to front man Adam Wakeman whose energetic performance and vocals simply set the songs alight and without doubt, these guys delivered a headline performance tonight.

Adam Wakeman - My Brother, The Wolf

Tonight’s gig made for quite a night, with each and every band scoring a direct hit with all those present – a great night indeed!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Uprising

Metal to the Masses Final Leicester 2016.

Now Drownload’s out the way, I can sit down and pen some words about this fabulous new event, that is Uprising (Resin Events in association with Firebug & Andy Wright) the brainchild of Matt Kirk and Mr. Simon Yarwood who are responsible for the M2TM’s events in Leicester and its new ‘Goldenboys’, as they managed to pull off the largest and best M2TM’s final to date.

Simon Yarwood - Resin

This all took place at the marvellous De Montford Hall and as I walked from the car park, which is a mere stones throw away from the venue and very reasonably priced at £4 for parking all day, I couldn’t help but notice the grandeur of today’s venue and the grounds in which De Montford Hall is situated are equally as impressive. This lead me to investigate a little more and did you know, De Montford Hall was in fact named after “Simon de Montford” a late Earl of Leicester (c. 1170–1218, confirmed 1207) I shit you not! The Architect was Shirley Harrison and it’s auditorium alone has a seating capacity of around 2000 people, which houses a restored pipe organ, estimated to be worth over £5 million, back in 2014… wish I’d known that before I went!

As grand as it’s setting, the days line up for ‘Uprising’ was equally as impressive as on the main stage alone, we had five great bands (Garganjua, Blood Oath, Final Coil, Conjurer and Temple of Lies) who were all battling it out for a place on the New Blood Stage at this years Bloodstock Festival. We also had five of the biggest and best live acts, currently active in the live music scene today (Internal Conflict, Beholder, Conan, Hell and Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band) and if that wasn’t enough, we had Acid Reign, AGHAST, Morass Of Molasses and SWAMP DELTA over on the second stage, as well as acoustic sets from Resin, James Cull & Rhett Barrow and The Midnight Dogs. And it didn’t stop there either, as we also had some rather alluring Burlesque acts who entertained the masses between the acoustic acts on stage 3.

Beholder

The whole day was extremely well organised and thoroughly thought out, with everything taken into consideration. For example, outside in a safe and pleasant enclosure we had three types of food vendors to choose from, which I managed to sample two of, For me, the food selection is as important as the bands that play as in my book, I love eating! Motley Brew, who cater for all your caffeine and non caffeine related drinks, for the non-drinkers or those driving (like me) who, incidentally, were an official sponsor of today’s event. I’m sure you’ll spot him about, at a summer event near you, if so, go over and say hi, he’s now one of my festival highlights and saviors, especially the morning after a heavy days drinking! As for drinking, not only did we have the two bars to choose from, but we also had some very fine real ales to choose from but as this event was also sponsored by Hobgoblin, what did you expect!

As you can plainly see, this was a full days entertainment, in a fantastic venue, all for less than £20!!!

As this was primarily a M2TM’s finale, we were very eager to see who would go on to play Bloodstock, as we’ll be attending in an unofficial capacity (we won’t be covering the event as we’ll be getting drunk and enjoying ourselves for once) so it’s probably a good idea to discuss our thoughts on the bands that took part!

Garganjua were first up and are a band we know all too well, as this is a side project for Beholder’s lead guitarist, Scott Taylor! We have in fact reviewed Garganjua’s new album, which is fantastic so we’re aware of the doom-tastic capabilities of this band and wasn’t surprised to see them in this final. Lighting was dark and gloomy, just the way they like it, although difficult to shoot in but it does make for the perfect setting to their sound, so we can’t complain. I’m not 100% certain, but Scott sounded a little nervous in his vocals on the day, I don’t know if that’s because of the scale of this event, or if he’s not quite comfortable being a front man but Where he lacked in his vocal capabilities, he more than made up for with his guitar playing ability, phenomenal!

Garganjua

Blood Oath are probably the first band that I know of to get to a M2TM’s final, having only been a band for eight months, yet their attendance today based on the performance we witnessed, was justified! We can be forgiven for not knowing who this band were going into this event, as it appears very few people do looking at their Facebook page, with only an insulting 259 people following, s that really doesn’t do this band any justice! All I can say is, the few that have heard of this band have very good taste, so when these guys become massive stars, playing their Groovy Death Metal, which was brilliant to watch btw, at least you can say you knew of them, before the fame and the glory. Personally, I love discovering bands like this and watching them grow in popularity! I’ve seen it happen many times now and I’ve gotten pretty good a spotting real talent and potential, so I’m tipping these to be a huge success in the not too distant future!

Final Coil we’re our least favourite band out of the five, that doesn’t mean to say they were rubbish, but in a battle of a bands, you consciously rate bands in some measurable order, based on ability. For us, I felt the vocal were their weakest point, but their musical ability was brilliant and I got into their groove quite well during solo’s etc. This band consists of a great bunch of people though, and their bass player rocks!

From what I can gather, after speaking to people on the day, the next band, Conjurer went into this competition as a firm favourite to win it and their energy and style of music (post-sludge) was faultless on the day. Andy, the band’s Bass player even decided to jump off the massive De Montford stage and jam out in the photographers pit, where he was soon set upon by said photographers – like a swarm they were! Great set, from a very hard working, competent band, who are currently signed to Holy Roar Records and we expect to see more of these guys!

Conjurer

The final band battling it out for a place were Temple of Lies and another band tat we’ve not come across before today but are now happy we can say we’ve seen them play live, as they played out of their skins on the day and we really enjoyed their set. Front man Si Shaw is a born performer and a joy to watch on stage. Signed to Attic Records, I’m certain we’ll be seeing these guys playing again very soon!

All the bands that played in the final are winners in our book, if it was left to us, we would have sent through either Blood Oath or Temple of Lies but thankfully, that responsibility wasn’t ours and we didn’t envy the judges, who’s job it was to decide the winners! That honour went to more distinguished gentlemen, who chose Doomer’s Conjurer as their overall winners, but with a plot twist, they also decided to grant Garganjua a runners up prize, so they too go on to play at BOA this year and much kudos to these guys, we’ll see you all there!

Looking at both the winning bands and the doom metal style they play, this clearly tells us what the festival were looking for this year, it’s true, doom has grown in popularity of late – just look at Desert Fest, for example. Great stuff, the losing bands shouldn’t give up, as the M2TM’s event is a great way to play to a well distinguished organisation and if nothing else, it gets you recognised by new fans!

As for the rest of the day, Internal Conflict were subliminal and it was great to see them playing on a large stage, such as De Montford Hall. These guys are a great example of what a band can achieve going through the M2TM’s event and we love them for it. They’re hard working, produce great ‘energetic’ music and all members of the band are grounded, down to earth guys and who are easily approachable, yet they have ambition and desire to do well, which no one can fault them for!

Internal Conflict

We saw yet another flawless set from Beholder, who’s latest album ‘Reflections’ has been their most successful offering to date and has catapulted them into new territory and stardom. It’s popularity has also earned them a return slot on the Sophie Lancaster stage at this years BOA, so we look forward to seeing them again this year,which must be our fourth time in 2016 alone!

Doom lords, in comparison, Conan, wow’d the crowd with their crushing riffs and these guys were a great compliment to today’s line up and a great choice, as they’ve already played Desert Fest and are soon to embark on their second tour of Australia, which also includes their first trip to New Zealand. These guys are going places in the music world, so to catch a glimpse of them here, at Uprising, was a great honour.

Hell, who hail from rival city Derby (my current place of residence) stole the show today though, with a full stage production, that included all the pyrotechnics you’d expect at a Rammstein gig! Although, this was only our second time seeing Hell, it was in fact our first full show experience, as not every venue you play in can accommodate 12ft flame blasts, which are as hot as hell it’s self – let me tell you! I was under the impression the togs were only allowed in the pit for the first three songs, as only after that, would the flames be fired but nope, I was stood right next to one when it first fired and I shit my pants, quite literally! I survived though, with an experience I’ll never forget as this band are truly amazing. What a show, wish they’d also play Bloodstock this year aswell, nudge nudge, wink wink!

Hell

As the stage was stripped bare in preparation for Motorhead’s own Phil Campbell’s All Star Band, I felt a little sorry for them having to follow on from Hell, but with Phil’s legendary statues and guitar playing, if anyone could pull it off, he could, well, you’d think so anyway. The start of their set seemed to be plagued with issues, with Phil not entirely happy with the sound and few grimacing faces from other band members and the lead singer constantly looking down, to read the lyrics to cover songs. This wasn’t the band I remember seeing a few years back at HRH, when they were excellent! Less we forget, Phil has recently lost a lifelong friend and former band member in Lemmy Kilmister, earlier this year, god rest his soul, so maybe I’m being a little too critical, but as a viewer, it wasn’t the best performance of the day, by any means! As their set went on though, it did get infinitely better and watching Phil shred was a delight – he truly is a master guitarist, of that I’m certain!

Phil Campbell's All Star Band(1)

Mr Yarwood and co. pulled off a truly memorable all day event, of which I’m certain will only grow as I’m aware that the gears are already turning for next years event! We’d like to extend our gratitude, to Resin Events for inviting us to cover their first ever Uprising and certainly hope it isn’t our last, as today was incredible! I feel I’ve waffled on enough, but I’m sure you’ll agree, this event was far from ordinary, it was in fact very special!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Hils Ovation

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 28th May 2016.

Tonight’s Hils Ovation gig has the making of a rather spectacular night, with performances lined up from Netherhall, Pelugion, Martyr De Mona and the remarkable Fire Red Empress – and you couldn’t want for much more than that!

Netherhall were our first band of the night and for me, this was a much anticipated experience as I had yet to see them perform live. With the band comprising of two former members of Glassbullet, I was holding my breath as to whether or not I would feel their evolution and for the first ten seconds I did have doubts, but those doubts were quickly erased as not only did they look different but they sounded different aswell. Netherhall’s sound is still heavy but with a deeper emotive edge to it that on occasion sent my mind reminiscing back to the classic strains of Robert Miles and never in a million years would I have expected that! Am I excited about what the future holds for Netherhall – yes, I certainly am as there is something very special emerging here and I can’t wait to see where it takes them!

Paul Berry - Netherhall

It’s been way too long since I last saw Pelugion and shame on me for that but tonight’s set was well worth the wait, as their performance was as wild and untamed as I’d hoped it would be. With their track ‘Serpent’s Mistress’ being a particular favourite of mine due to it’s mesmerizing guitar riffs and the brazen vocals of Andy Sweeney, I was pretty chuffed to hear it played in the bands set tonight. It was also particularly cool and pretty brave of the band to include a cover version of Megadeth’s ‘Symphony Of Destruction’ which was just about ten minutes old but then that’s Pelugion for you – fearless and creative to the point of no holds barred.

Andy Sweeney - Pelugion

Our penultimate band for tonight were Martyr de Mona who have been very firm favorites of the Midlands metal scene for a fair few years now but even with that degree of familiarity for regular gig goers, these guys always deliver a set second to none.

Josh Wooldridge - Martyr de Mona

Tonight’s performance at the O2 was indeed outstanding with the energy both on and off stage radiating an atmosphere that was nothing short of exceptional and the kind of experience that you really don’t want to end. You can catch Martyr de Mona at several great events over the forthcoming summer months, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for all the latest updates.

Louis Hale - Martyr De Mona

Time certainly is flying by for Fire Red Empress with it only being a matter of six short months since Jen Diehl made her debut appearance in the band at last years Midlands Metal Crusade and already Fire Red Empress have a new album which is just about ready for launching. Tonight’s set promised the opportunity to hear a host of new material from it along with a few firm favorites and for me, that was something not to be missed!

Ben Picken - Fire Red Empress

With the stage swathed in fiery red lights, the band were welcomed onto the stage loudly by the audience of a pretty packed out O2 Academy3 and what then followed was a completely addictive set that was nothing short of compelling to see and hear. This band have never lacked in the stage presence department but with Jen Diehl’s character, confidence and vocal ability truly shinning through, I can wholehearted predict that Fire Red Empress are destined for many great things yet to come.

Jen Diehl - Fire Red Empress

I left the O2 Academy3 tonight feeling like I had just witnessed something quite special, as not only had the bands given 110% but there was an atmosphere of excitement in the room which had rolled out across the audience and band members alike. And that my friend, is exactly what the thrill of live music is all about!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.