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WCH Battle Of The Bands

Quarter Finals – Round 3.

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 16th February 2014.

With six bands en route to the WCH Battle Of The Bands semi-finals next month, the competition is already in full swing and still to come tonight, we had the great pleasure of Lynus, Singing Towards Disaster, Mr George’s Famous Last Words, The Rooz and Recoil.


 It was great to see so many people here in support of their favourite bands and first up and getting tonight’s rock rolling, were Lynus. These guys created an instant impact on the Slade Rooms with their blast of swashbuckling riffs and stage persona that was simply hell bent on giving everyone a great taste of what Lynus are all about.

Singing Towards Disaster

 It’s always a pleasure to see an up and coming band that show such a healthy commitment to writing good songs and who also demonstrate great potential within the local music scene and our second contenders of the evening, Singing Towards Disaster, are a band that I would happily describe as fitting into that category. These five guys play their music hard and heavy and clearly pay plenty of attention to the detail of their performance and image. Go check them out on Facebook, as I suspect there are many good things still to come from Singing Towards Disaster.

Mr George’s Famous Last Words

 Mr George’s Famous Last Words were the next band to take to the stage and in a matter of only seconds, the Slade Rooms lit up like a Christmas tree in more ways than one! These five funked up rock ‘N’ rollers have a sound and style that screams “Party On” and the audience didn’t hold back either in giving them a great reception and one that they most certainly earned tonight, as these guys not only blew the doors off The Slade Rooms but they raised the bar for the whole competition!

The Rooz

 With two more bands still to play tonight, there was no holding The Rooz from Telford back and without even waiting for an introduction, they took to the stage and Wolverhampton was again privy to a storming set loaded with the ‘WOW’ factor. The Rooz have more bounce than Tigger in both their songs and their stage performance and not even a broken string was gonna hold these guys back tonight. There is much great talent in this young band and the audience simply loved them!


 Last band to take to the stage tonight were Recoil from Stoke. With a wide range of many musical influences, Recoil are the proud owners of a full on and multi-dimensional sound that spans across the spectrum of rock, grunge and also includes just a touch of the blues. Much energy went into their set tonight as they brought tonight’s competition to a vibrant close.

Tonight’s semi-final can only be described as an impressive showcase for some of the dedicated musical talent that is very much alive and kicking in the West Midlands. And with that in mind, a huge shout must go out, along with a rousing round of applause to Mr George’s Famous Last Words for securing themselves first place, to The Rooz who came a very close second and finally to Lynus, who also go through to the next round with tonight’s Wild Card vote.

What a fabulous night!

Words by Sue Wardle and Photography by Stephen Turner.

See all the night’s pictures here.

Hils Ovation

Upon Descent/ IHYM/ Our World Below?/ This Game Of Ghosts and Apparition.

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 15th February 2014.

When you see the name Hils Ovation on a gig poster, it’s a sure fire guarantee that you’re in for one ‘ell of a good night of metal and tonight was certainly destined to be exactly that!

With a line up of both familiar and new faces here at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton, there was one new face in particular I was keen to see, that being Grace Meridan from Chicago USA, who was making her first of four appearances with Stafford based band, Apparition.. I raise my glass in admiration to Grace and the band, as I can’t begin to imagine the amount of long distance preparation a venture such as this requires, but with the unveiling of their first live symphonic performance of metal and opera, it was definitely all systems go! My only disappointment was that more people were not here to see them, so please check out their Facebook pages for details of future performances and show these guys some love.

Grace Meridan with Apparition

Our second band on stage were This Game Of Ghosts who hail from Stoke-On-Trent. With a sound that is brutal to the Deathcore, these guys are nothing short of a whirlwind on stage and with the ravaged vocals of Max Cottrell serving to heighten their intensity, these guys have a bite in their music that is as deadly as a rattlesnake. Plenty of appreciation being shown tonight by the increasing numbers in the audience and a strong set greatly enjoyed by me.

Adam Rider - This Game Of Ghosts

Our World Below? are no strangers to Hils Ovation’s gigs and when a band and their music are as good as this, that really comes as no great surprise. Tonight’s set was a mix of wild and melodic heaviness that frequently crossed through to the dark side with Dave Riley unleashing some ferocious vocals much to the delight of the audience. In addition to a mighty fine set from the band, there was some sharing of good news relating to their forthcoming album launch, which is set for 12th July and will also mark the celebration of Hils Ovations birthday bash – and that is going to be a night you DON’T want to miss!

Dave Riley - Our World Below

Having heard great things about I Hate You More or IHYM as they are known to friends, tonight’s set was a much anticipated first for me and what an introduction to their universe it was! Ripped to the last thread of thrash and hardcore, this three piece band from Birmingham is a force to be reckoned with! Not only does their sound hit the spot, they know how to put on a performance and from my privileged place in the pit I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by some of the most expressive snarls I’ve seen in a long time!

Phil - IHYM

Tonight’s headliners, Upon Descent, are no strangers to Hils Ovation’s events either but with tonight seeing them riding high on the second announcement of the evening, which confirmed their support slot with the mighty Soulfly on the 25th February, the adrenaline on stage (and off) seemed to take their performance to a new level.

Belvedere Bailey - Upon Descent

Dab Brown on vocals, launched and led the heavy metal infused charge upon The Slade Rooms to its full glory and judging by the audiences’ cheers, that was one victory that tasted very sweet!

Dab Brown - Upon Descent

Tonight saw five great bands give five great performance and you really can’t ask for anything more than that!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.


Tarja - Colours In The Dark

With Support From Elyose

Rock City Nottingham 12th February 2014.

For me, tonight was seen as something a little different, yet very special. With the operatic metal or ‘symphonic metal’ genre being ever popular, it was only made possible thanks to this, very talented musician and amazing vocalist, Tarja.

Supporting Tarja, which can’t be easy, was Elyose who is also an amazing talent, in her own right. Formed in 2009, the band has grown in popularity at a steady pace, firstly gaining support in their home country, France. Gradually, as they relentlessly travelled through Europe, performing show after show, they gained an ever increasing troop of loyal followers who discovered this superb talent. Over the years, their sound has evolved (and will continue to do so) to what we hear today, a heavy guitar riffed, metal, operatic fussed masterpiece.

Thankfully, for Justine Daaé, (Lead Singer) tonight’s set started bang on 7pm, as she’s not an early riser (Her words) on this very wet and windy Wednesday night. Justine is a very tall and attractive brunet, with a figure to die for however, it’s her vocal talents that took our breaths away. To look at her, with her delicate frame, you wouldn’t expect such powerful vocals, maybe a little too powerful sometimes but it was a mostly a pleasurable experience by enlarge.

Justine Daaé - Elyose

The band has seen several guitarists over the years, but Marc De Lajoncquière seems to be the right choice for the band now and what a great choice he is too! Tonight he played out of his skin, producing some great technical guitar playing and one of the performances of the night, for me, great guitarist!

Marc De Lajoncquière - Elyose

Ghislain Henry, is the bands bass player and looked uber cool in his sun glasses. A trademark stage persona, it seems and I can’t blame him, especially tonight as Rock City got given a lighting boost as the bands bought their own kit and along with the house lights, these helped to illuminate them! It’s safe to say the stage was awash with colour and were great conditions to photograph in, helping us to produce some fantastic images of these guys tonight! Finally, Patrick Kzu, on drums helped to keep the band sounding tight and doing a superb job as percussionist!

Ghislain Henry - Elyose

So, tonight I’ve been given the opportunity to witness the legendary vocal talents of Tarja, which is the same honour previously bestowed upon the Finnish President at the celebrated National Independence Day Party. My, what a career – how she has grown!

Tarja is celebrated as being a founding member of Nightwish where she produced four albums, the most successful being “Once”. Sadly her role as lead singer came to an abrupt end, as the rest of the band dismissed her by letter. It seems Nightwish are somewhat unlucky in their pursuit of the perfect vocalist as still to this day, I’m reading of another vocalist who’s been dismissed and replaced with their now vocalist Floor Jansen!

Anyway, before Nightwish the ‘symphonic metal’ genre was still unexplored, but thanks to her remarkable and diverse talents, Tarja Turunen made it become every bit a reality. Seen as being the genres founder and leading figurehead, without her, this genre would probably cease to exist!! First and foremost Tarja was seen as being an outstanding opera singer and has had great success in being so too. It seems, however, her love for all things metal has helped shape who she and this genre have become today. With plenty of Sisu (Finnish for strength, loosely translated), after splitting from Nightwish Tarja embarked on her now illustrious solo career and has produced six studio albums, to date the latest being “Colours in the Dark”.  This current set of European tour dates is to promote her new album, and my, what an album – if you are a fan of this genre, I’d highly recommend it. Tonight’s Nottingham show was the second of only two UK dates in 2014, the first being in London, where else!


As Tarja took to the stage, she was greeted by rapturous applause, from a less than packed Rock City, I doubt the weather helped but those that were there, certainly made enough noise. Dressed in a sexy all black number, she went about rocking the crowd, in her unique way. It was clear for all to see, this is a woman that has found her true calling in life and loves what she does. There can be no disputing that Tarja’s exceptional beauty and powerful vocals are a great combination, which simply blew me and everyone in the room tonight away!


I though this was a nice touch, Tarja had a Cello player Max Lilja, performing along side her, who also gave the band great depth to their sound. The rest of the band consisted of Mike Terrana, on drums, playing on quite possibly, the most futuristic and largest set of drums I’ve ever come across! Christian Kretschma on Keyboards, Anna on Bass, who I recognised from when she played with Mitch Malloy, at Firefest in 2012 and finally Alex Scholpp on the Guitar, whoose performance tonight was incredible and helped to compliment Tarja’s amazing voice. His solo at the end of the track “Never Enough” (whilst Tarja goes off to change her outfit, something she’s used to doing with Nightwish) was a great display of the man’s talent and the crowd showed their appreciation, at the end, with a massive round of applause.

Mike Terrana - Tarja

Tonight’s set list consisted of: 1. Deliverance 2. In for a Kill 3. 500 Letters 4. Dark 5. Star 6. I Walk Alone 7. Anteroom of Death 8. Never Enough [with Band Outro Solo] costume change 9. Sing for Me 10. Die Alive 11. Mystique Voyage 12. Neverlight 13. Medusa

(Encore) 1. Victim of Ritual 2. Ciarán’s Well 3. Wish I Had an Angel (Nightwish cover) 4. Until My Last Breath

Words and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)