HRH Metal

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.

Vaughan Bennett - XVII

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.

Matty Jenks - Obzidian

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.

John Pittaway - Pelugion

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.

Sally Holliday - Hanging Doll

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.

Cat Pereira - Derange

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!

Lord Ragnar Wagner - The Heretic Order

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.

HRH Metal

O2 Academy Birmingham 11th February 2017.

This weekend see’s the much anticipated launch of Hard Rock Hell Metal in the city of Birmingham and what a great venture this looks set to be too. With all three venues within the O2 Academy primed and ready for action, the opportunity to catch forty bands over the forthcoming two days really does feel quite a luxury but the biggest draw for me and my main place of residence for this weekend, will be the Best of Brum stage as it will be playing host to some of the finest up and coming bands from this region and beyond.

Whoever was responsible for organising the Best Of Brum’s line up, made a very smart call in tasking Burden Of The Noose with opening up this two day event as when you need a band to make an impact, then these are the guys to do just that. For forty short minutes, the heaving Academy3 lay captive to a merciless siege from the band, which was further engrained by the psychotic gaze of Andy Barraclough. Despite having seen Burden Of The Noose command the stage on many an occasions previously, I really felt that today’s set topped the lot and what an excellent start to the day!

Andy Barraclough - Burden Of The Noose

Bloodyard were up next and once again, this was a set that was destined to impact with a ruthless edge. The vocal prowess of Donna Hurd is such that it stops you dead in your tracks and amidst the hazy red lights and thick heavy smoke, the mood of their set was ferociously atmospheric. Bloodyard are not the kind of band to only see once and with that thought in mind, I shall be keeping eyes and ears open for news of their next gig in this area.

Donna Hurd - Bloodyard

With the Best Of Brum stage gaining a fair amount of the early birds attention, 3pm saw Internal Conflict take to the stage in the company of a maximum capacity crowd. One of the great things about this band is their energy on stage and with front man Adam Kyle making a keen connection with the audience, this was one hell of a great set from the band.

Next up were Vicious Nature and without doubt, this is one band who know how to get the momentum charged and today’s set certainly did that! With some fans having travelled from as far a field as Belgium just to see them play live here today, there was no holding Vicious Nature back and Andy Pyke was barely containable by the O2 Academy3 stage. This was an excellent performance from Vicious Nature and a highlight of the day for many.

Andy Pyke - Vicious Nature

Jonestown’s set marked the halfway point of day one on the Best Of Brum Stage and even though the performances on stages 1 and 2 were now well underway, there was still a fair size audience waiting to see them play. Jonestown have a merciless intensity to their sound that is heartless in it’s delivery and if you like your metal bruised to perfection, then you really do need to go and check out Jonestown for sure!

In advance of today, I’d been told by several people that one of the must see bands this weekend were Anticlone, but that recommendation in itself does in no way prepare you for the reality of such an experience. Visually, their appearance takes things to a whole new level that is on par with your worst living nightmare and the brutality of their apocalyptic nu-metal also sits within that very same kind of dreamscape aswell. Anticlone are one of a kind and if the world ends as we know it, I wanna be on their side – AWESOME!

Mr Clone - Anticlone

The West Midlands metal scene has a very healthy hard core bounty of bands and next up was another band of it’s local hero’s – Left For Red. Laden with a powerful and heavy metal essence, the bands set delivered a tightly welded mesh of decibel breaking favourites that had the audience raising horns and beer in the air as a mark of appreciation.

LC - Left For Red

Sadly, the need for sustenance meant that I missed the set from Ballsdeep but I did make it back in time to catch The Best Of Brum’s final band of the day, Animator. Demolishing the airwaves with a bevy of frantic guitar riffs and the avid vocals of James Doughty, the set from Animator hit like a hurricane and gave us exactly the right kind of an end to day one that Hard Rock Hell Metal deserved.

James Doughty - Animator

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.


With support from Romeo‘s Daughter.
The Robin2 Bilston 30th January 2017.

As a live music photographer/reviewer, it’s always a privilege to attend live events and capture the memories as they are being made and also record history in the making but there is one particular band whose concerts have repeatedly left me in varying stages of awe over the years, and that is Tyketto.

And with that knowledge in mind, tonight’s event at The Robin2 in Bilston, just couldn’t come soon enough!

But first, and getting this evenings show underway to a very warm welcome indeed, were Romeo’s Daughter. With their classic track ‘Heaven In The Backseat’ first up tonight, the Robin2’s audience were quick to add their voices to that of Leigh Matty and who could blame them, as this is the kind of track you just don’t experience fully without singing along! As their set continued, tracks from their 2015 album ‘Spin’ served as an impressive reminder that Romeo’s Daughter continue to write songs that are guaranteed to please the current day rock connoisseur – and that is exactly what I’m sure they will continue to do on their forthcoming live dates, which start off with HRH AOR at Pwllheli on 10.3.17.

Leigh Matty - Romeo's Daughter

Romeo’s Daughter Setlist: 1.Heaven In The Backseat 2.Attracted To The Animal 3.Touch 4.Radio 5.Bittersweet 6.Alive 7.Inside Out 8.I Cry Myself To Sleep At Night 9.Wild Child

I think it’s fair to say that the West Midlands has, and will always hold the warmest of welcomes for Tyketto, so as the time approached for the band to take to the stage, I found myself standing in a pretty much full to capacity venue with an army of like minded fans.

As the stage lights went dark and the introduction tape began, there was an eerie kind of hush that fell across the audience around me but this instantly changed to raging cheers as the stage light’s blazed, and there they were – Tyketto!

Danny Vaughn - Tyketto

With the opening track ‘Kick Like A Mule’ raining down Tyketto’s adrenaline fuelled charge on the audience, the atmosphere was off the wall and from my perspective squished up amongst the front few rows, it really was something fantastic to be a part of. But this kind of atmosphere is not unique to any one specific Tyketto gig – it’s just what happens, as both fans and band alike are there to celebrate the many great years spent making and listening to this awesome music.

Ged Rylands - Tyketto

With tonight’s set list including some of Tyketto’s most anthemic tracks, including ‘Wings’, ‘Burning Down Inside’ and ‘Lay Your Body Down’, there was much audience singing to be done and I imagine sales of Strepsils hit an all time high across the Midlands the following day, as this audience was one that most definitely wanted to be heard!

Chris Green and Chris Childs - Tyketto

Tonight’s set wasn’t just a celebration of days gone by tho, as this was the first tour after the bands 2016 album release ‘Reach’, and a first chance to see and hear a few of the new tracks played live. And we were not to be disappointed either as in addition to ‘Kick Like A Mule’, tonight’s set also featured ’I Need It Now’, ’Big Money’ and the most beautiful of songs and title track of the album aswell, ‘Reach’.

Michael Clayton - Tyketto

With Tyketto’s set drawing to an end, there was still one song that needed to be heard and sure enough, encore of the night was ‘Forever Young’. There is something very special about this song as it seems to holds so much meaning to so many and if the tonight’s performance was anything to go by, that can be said for Tyketto aswell.

Tyketto will be back again on UK shores later this year as part of the HRH festival (9-12th November 2017), so I have finger, toes and just about everything else crossed in the hope that we’ll see a few more dates added aswell, as there’s no such thing as too much Tyketto!

Tyketto Setlist: 1.Kick Like A Mule 2.Wings 3.Rescue Me 4.Faithless 5.I Need It Now 6.Burning Down Inside 7.Meet Me In The Night 8.Reach 9.Dig In Deep 10.Standing Alone 11.Catch My Fall 12. Let It Go 13.Big Money 14.Lay Your Body Down 15.Love To Love – (Encore) 16.Forever Young

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.