O2 Academy Birmingham 12th February 2017.
With Saturday having been the raging success that it was, you could half forgive people for not recovering in time to make it back for the start of day two but hell no, as with XVII kicking things off in the most ruthless of ways, the Best of Brum room was fast to fill up. Vaughan Bennett never fails to bring his explosive energy to the stage and whether the metal is hard core or airing on a slightly more melodic edge, as a vocalist he always packs a punch. It really isn’t hard to grasp why XVII are as popular live as they are and I do hope that we get to see these guys back here again next year.
Our next band of the day were Obzidian and in full readiness for what 2pm would bring, the room was just about packed to the rafters as they took to the stage. Matty Jenks is the kind of front man whose raging vocals can tear skin from the bone and today’s aural assault was most definitely one of his greatest. I kind of got the impression that as much as the infectious energy on stage rolled out across the audience, it was also rolling right back, as Obzidian were most definitely on the finest of form today.
Next up were Eradikator and here we have a band who just seem to be going from strength to strength at the moment and just as I had hoped, Eradikator hit Birmingham at full throttle. With ability and technical prowess in abundance, these three guys make thrash look easy and today’s set from the band lacked for absolutely nothing.
After the fast tempo assault of our previous three bands, it was time for a change in direction and Pelugion, who hail from the Coventry area, were just the right band for the job. These guys have been casting a mighty big impression across the region since day one of their inception and if you’ve already had the pleasure of catching them live and heard their brand of hard rock/metal infused grove before, then you’ll know exactly why this is so. With the sound system in the venue being on tip top form, the vocals of Andy Sweeney were captured in all their full glory and I would hazard a pretty safe bet that Pelugion left the stage with a fair few more fans than they arrived with.
You can’t beat a bit of the theatrics – especially when it’s done well and our next band of the day, Donkerkarnuffel, know exactly how to put on an imposing and disturbingly visual show. Amidst a heavy layer of atmospheric smoke, this awesome foursome took a step back in time to the oldie world days of the Victorian circus freak show, with a sound that is equally as dark and disturbing but in the most impressive of ways. Donkerkarnuffel really are a must see band and one that I hope to catch live again soon.
Today just seemed to have flown by far quicker than I would have liked and as 6pm approached and the remaining plethora of smoke cleared, it was time for Hanging Doll to take full command of the stage. Hanging Doll bring gothic metal and melody together in symphonic unison, with the vocal ability of Sally Holliday holding the magic combination of power and emotion perfectly. Tonight’s set from the band was a pleasure to behold and one that they can certainly be proud of.
With some many great bands packed into today’s Best Of Brum line up, it was inevitable that I wouldn’t manage to catch all of them and sadly Sunday’s casualty was Gehtika.
I did however, manage to make it back into the pit in time for the eighth band of the day, Derange and boy oh boy, am I glad that I did. Watching their set tonight felt like I was watching the birthing of art meets metal as there is something deeply creative within their expressive sound. Cat Pereira has an awesome stage presence which locks itself into an almost trance like state that precariously balances on the edge of possession and without any doubt at all, Derange were definitely my best new discovery of the weekend.
Closing out Sunday’s Best Of Brum stage were none other than The Heretic Order and what a fantastic band to end the day with. When you’re in the company of The Heretic Order, their fierce cryptic rhythms leave you hanging on to every note and Lord Ragnar Wagner is the kind of front man whose commanding persona is one of a kind!
From my perspective, this weekend has been absolutely fantastic in just about all ways imaginable – from the organisation and support that was in place and makes doing what I do possible, to the amazing bands who got up and gave some of the finest performances you could hope to see and equally as important, the thousands of metalheads who came, partied and revelled in the most fantastic of atmospheres. The only downside to Hard Rock Hell Metal 2017 is that’s its over but with the promise of the event returning again next year, this new chapter for HRH is far from done.
Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.