It’s the last Bank Holiday of the year, which can only mean one thing, it’s time to make my annual pilgrimage to sunny Bromsgrove for Beermageddon and yes, the weather was kind to us this year, of which I’m grateful for. As were all those who were camping and there were a few, as this year is the second year this festival has managed to sell out! It’s worth mentioning that people could get onto the camp site on the Thursday for a very small charge, which ensures they can get camped up and ready for the festivities ahead, from what I can gather many took up this opportunity to do so.
Over the three day festival, which starts early Friday evening, we will be subjected to some of the finest music the metal genre has to offer, courtesy of some of the finest bands this country has produced. Each band has been hand picked by Mr. Jim Beerman, personally, the chant of the festival rung true “In Beerman we trust”! As this festival’s reputation grows, so does its reach, which now manages to attract some quality acts from some of the furthest parts of the European Union also! For example, this years line up included a Belgium band, who go by the name of Sanity’s Rage and a band from Finland, who go by the name of Re-Armed. More on them in a bit.
I stated earlier that all the bands are picked by Mr. Beerman, but that isn’t strictly true and hasn’t been the case for the past two years as one individual, who goes by the name of DJ Valkyrie has managed to get one band of her choice onto the past two rosters. Seeing as she travels a whopping 4,100 miles to get here and has such a good taste in music, I think its only right she gets to pick a band she’s championing at the time and she should be allowed to do so every year! We salute you Valkyrie!
As for the rest of this years line up, what an eclectic mix of bands, yet (technically) they all fall under the genre metal! Mr. Beerman has expertly managed to include every sub-genre which falls under the metal umbrella! This really isn’t easy to do, to get this many sub-genres to work must be a nightmare to plan for yet with his knowledge and skills, he manages to pull it off well! There really wasn’t a dull moment on that stage this year. We had punk, Old, British, Neoclassical Pirate, Folk, Death, Thrash, Black, Stoner, Southern, Groove and every other kind of Metal in between, INSANE, but it worked!
Sadly, I can’t mention every single band that played at this years Beermageddon and I don’t really see the point, as no-one usually reads my reviews anyway, but for those that do, I will mention the bands that appealed to me on a personal level.
Opening the festival were the Scottish contingence linked to this festival, but this time in the form of “Zero Hour”. These guys and girl make the trip here every year, whether they are playing it or not and are the life and soul of the festival. Most of them never seem to remember who I am, as they are usually too blottoed to remember their own names, but whilst on stage, they are as professional as they can be. A punk enthused metal act that get’s the party started. It’s worth mentioning, not this group, but friends of theirs are responsible for the official Beermageddon song…..beer, beer, Beermageddon! Not many festivals can say they have their own anthem, however I’d like to know if you can buy a copy of this, if not, they should release it!
Gehtika are a well establish band that have managed to work their way up the ranks, winning the hearts of everyone that see’s them play. I for one was itching to see this performance and by jove they were spiffing. It was great to see five well dressed men wearing corpse paint and as the set went on, so did their eye liner, all down their face. I jest, this look is in fact intentional and helps to give these guy’s a unique identity, as there are plenty of bands out there doing the metal core style these guys deliver. I can now finally say I’ve seen Gehtika play and it was one of the sets of the festival, so much so, an online poll looks to be going in their favour and if they win, they may get asked back to headline Beermageddon next year, which I for one want to see this happen. One note-able event happened on their second to last song when they invited a young metal head up onto the stage to jam out with them. The little thing looked petrified, but managed to raise the horns and even managed to strum a string or two!
As this years fancy dress theme was pirates, I have to mention Red Rum, as this band are just that “pirate metal” I never knew there was such a thing, but looking around the venue many had made the effort to dress accordingly and a good time was had by all. I’m also aware these guys went down a storm at Bloodstock this year, which was just two weeks prior.
A fellow journalist mentioned the next band “Demons Of Old Metal” or DOOM for short and has championed the band on his radio show over at Metal Nation Radio – he couldn’t speak highly enough of these guys and I can see why. On arrival, on the Saturday, the stage was set like Satan’s shit box, with limbs hanging from every possible angle. Each band member has a very different satanic look about them, together they deliver a classic metal sound, yet manage to give it a unique sense of brutality and make it their own! I loved both the visual and audible attack on the senses and hope I can catch this band again real soon!
The next band who I was very pleased to see at this years Beermageddon were Designs Of Chaos. I first saw this band in Bromsgrove, at another festival that no longer exists, but since then tragedy has struck, so to see them back here, or gigging at all for that matter is a true testament to their resolve. Check out our interview with Designs Of Chaos to catch up on their latest news.
Re-armed are one of the bands I mentioned earlier, who were willing to travel all the way from Finland to be here to play for the Beermageddon faithful and it was very much appreciated by all, my self included. This was a brutal set, delivered by a very talented bunch of musicians. I do wonder if they’ve seen the footage from Godslave’s set from last year though, as they too went walk a-bouts and played most of the set out amongst the crowd. Thanks to the intimacy of this festival, we had a lot of access to this band after their set, so much access in-fact, it was borderline inappropriate, as two members of the band thought it would be funny to run around the camp site NAKED, to dry off after their shower. Many missed it, thankfully (or not) I was in the right place at the right time, to capture the event with my camera. I’m pretty sure this is a first at Beermageddon, yet I doubt it will be the last! Since this set, I’ve spoken to several people about this band, most of which still remember their set from a Bloodstock a few years ago and they all loved that set and I can see why! I’m going to go out on a limb and say we haven’t seen the last of these guys in the UK, although, they are soon to embark on a tour of Asia. These guys are gonna kill it out there! Please come back to UK soon!
The other band, from a far were Sanity’s Rage and any band willing to travel from Belgium has to be worth a mention. I for one loved their old school thrash sound, which harped back to the days of ‘Kill em All’, by Metallica, and ‘Spreading the Disease’, by Anthrax. This was also DJ Valkyries offering this year and from my perspective, they didn’t let her down. It did take them a while to warm up, but as the crowd grew, so did their confidence and by the end of their set, the room was full of both people and their egos (in a positive way mind). After speaking with Kenny, the bands vocalist, I discovered this band love coming over here to play for UK metal fans, as us Brit’s are willing to give anyone a listen and judge them on their performance, rather than judging them on their reputation like music fans do back in Belgium. Come back again soon and be sure to tell me where you’re playing.
Martin Walkyier goes Skyclad finished off day two and the legend that he is, had been hanging around all day waiting to go on stage, however, he managed to fill his long wait by talking to fans and signing stuff for them. I, like another journalist here this weekend, have managed to miss this guy so many times, but I can now finally say I’ve seen what all the fuss is about. As a pioneer in the metal music scene, for many years, he certainly showed some of the younger bands a thing or too about how to entertain a crowd! Accompanying the legend were some very fine musicians indeed, Ian (Rannoch) on guitars, Justin (Hærken) on Bass, an electric violinist (who was ace) as well as a surprise guest appearance by Ms Jacqueline Taylor. All told, this was a fantastically entertaining set, one of which I’d like to see more of from this genre!
Opening the Sunday were another band I’ve been trying to see for a while now and they were Children Lost In Time or CLIT for short, haha! We desperately wanted to speak to these guys, to find out more about them, which we managed to do and if you’re a fan of this band, or have recently discovered these guys, may I suggest you watch Children Lost In Time’s interview, as it was very informative and clearly shows these guys are very passionate about what they do. These guys don’t just do serious though, as their party tune was very funny and very entertaining and the Beermageddonites loved their cover of ‘Gay Bar’, by Electric Six.
I’m not ashamed to admit, one of the reasons I love coming to Beermageddon is the fact I’ve not heard some 90% of the bands that usually get announced, so I use it as an excuse to discover new bands. I don’t think there’s any shame in that and it’s certainly a better way to discover new music than a soulless email or press release! One of those discoveries, from this weekend were the band Sanctorum, who literally blew my socks off from start to finish. I immediately bought their latest album, as did many others (in fact the merch table was doing very well for bands) and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. If you like it hard and heavy, these are the guys for you!
Another great find were By Definition who hail from Brighton, these stoner metallers are set to play both Breakout Festival and Mammothfest in a couple of weeks, we got to speak with these guys also, so please do go and check out our interview with By Definition aswell.
I’m no stranger to the band Line of Fire who, in my opinion played the set of their lives at Beermageddon. The reception they received from the crowd was awesome, especially when you consider these too are more of the stoner variety. These guys just get better and better every time I see them.
To close this festival, Jim always manages to find someone very special and this year he out did himself. Billed as M:PIRE of Evil, who no one had heard of, they turned out to be original founding members of Venom, MANTAS – THE DEMOLITION MAN – ABADDON reincarnated. I shamefully had no idea who venom were, although after doing some research, I do in fact know some of their original songs, but I couldn’t say I was ever a fan as it was a bit before my time, I’m young, forgive me Jim…lol. The anticipation for these guys to get up onto the stage was electric, you could cut the dry ice with a knife (and there was a lot of smoke for these guys). Incidentally the track ‘Smoke’ is now my new favourite track! This band were the icing on the cake and ripped Beermageddon a new arse hole to make sure that no-one would forget what was an already unforgettable weekend.
This festival just gets better and better, with every year that passes. Many return and with them, they bring fresh faces who also enjoy themselves, but then it’s hard not too with such a great line up, year in, year out. Never have I experienced so much love at a music festival, everyone looks out for one another, the amenities are adequate, the food available could have been better, but it was fit for consumption, the beer however was top notch, so much so, we drank more than any other festival that gets held at this great venue. With a festival called Beermageddon, what do you expect! I’d like to consider myself a life long fan of this festival and every year it’s on, I’ll be there and I know Mr. Beerman is already busy planning for 2016, of which you can now buy early bird tickets at the insanely low price of £35!!!! Seriously, with the reputation that this festival has and the fun that’s to be had, the organisers could charge more, but they choose not to – unlike so many others, these guys are all about having fun, at an affordable price! I’m in, are you? You should be!
Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)