Stoke Prior Bromsgrove 23rd August 2014.
Unfortunately 2014 hasn’t been the best year for music festivals, as we’ve seen some falling by the wayside, which is a real shame. Seriously though, how many festivals can people actually afford? With some costing in excess of £200, it does prove a logistic nightmare for music fans, wouldn’t you agree?
Thankfully, Beermageddon hasn’t fallen and still remains a permanent fixture in the yearly calendar for many and we are most grateful to be apart of it, as it is a fantastic independent music festival which is affordable, comfortable with plenty of amenities, is extremely fun and seems to be growing in popularity every year. The only thing that goes against any UK festival is the fact that it’s held in the UK and you can be sure the beautiful British weather always plays a factor any time of the year. Saturday saw some icy down pours (who needs the ice bucket challenge) but this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, from what I could see.
Thankfully this festival is held indoors so we remained dry and comfortable, unless you were moshing out like the majority of fans were, where your comfort zone gets suitably invaded but hey, we are at a metal festival so shits bound to get crazy, right?
Having attended the first ever Beermageddon at the Black Horse in Derbyshire, I was well aware of the insanity that occurs at this festival. I was unable to attend the second instalment at its new home at The Stoke Priory due to family commitments, which I was most disappointed about, but we are eternally grateful to be invited back this year. Unfortunately due to health issues I could only make one day, so I opted for the Saturday as I favoured the bands on the bill for this day. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like any of the other bands playing on the Friday or the Sunday, in-fact the complete opposite as I was totally gutted to miss everyone on those other two days – getting injured sucks, trust me.
On arrival at the festival site, which is very easy to find as it’s straight off the M5 motorway, I was greeted by many familiar faces – which speaks volumes! This festival has a great family feel to it and everyone here was very friendly and welcoming. After saying ‘hello’ to many friends, I set about preparing myself for the day’s entertainment, METAL!
First band on today, thankfully were Razorblade Smile. Having missed their set time on Friday due to poor traffic conditions, Beermageddon managed to slot them in as the first band on today, so their trip all the way from Scotland wasn’t a waste of time. These guys and girl are no strangers to Beermageddon, having attended the first two as music fans and they are great characters, in fact, Shoddy Roddy came up with the first ever Beermageddon chant “BARABQUE BASTARDS”!! Musically, these guys are reviving the punk genre, it was so bad it was genius and loads of fun to watch and I mean that in the nicest possible way I hasten to add!
Next up, Monumentomb, who, like everyone today, got a rousing introduction from the man himself, festival organiser and compare, Mr. Jim Beerman, who was sporting a Hawaiian garland around his neck and why not, this is a party after all! These were just one of the many bands who were willing to travel miles to play here today. These guys are young, but what they lack in years, they make up for in brutal death metal music. Monumentomb certainly helped to ignite us, getting us all fired up for more!
With a quick change over West Midlands based band, RANNOCH were up next. Thankfully, I’ve seen these guys play before and just like then, I was blown away by the technicality with which these guys play. They are in fact, the only band I know of that features 2 x 8 string guitarists, which is insane! What was also great to see was guest vocalist Justin Pryce, from Haerken appear for a track that he features on, on the new RANNOCH album. Justin certainly helped to give these guys another dynamic when he appeared, much for the better!
One thing is certainly evident with this festival and that’s the fact that the bands who play here and the music fans that come to enjoy their music, all want to be here. For instance, I got the opportunity to speak with Onslaught’s lead singer Sy Keeler, who spoke about the fact that he and the other guys in the band were really looking forward to playing. In his own words, he called Beermageddon special, a real grass roots festival with an amazing atmosphere and said he had been looking forward to coming here for months. I spoke briefly about the band, and their pending European tour, which they are extremely excited about. You can catch Onslaught in the UK next when they play The Flapper in Birmingham on the 17th of January 2015 in conjunction with the Headbangers Balls. Being a vinyl junky himself, we spoke about how all of Onslaughts albums are available on vinyl. Many don’t get it, but we do because when you get to hold an album in your hands, get to see the art work, smell the vinyl and read the lyrics, there’s no better feeling especially if you’re a huge fan of that particular band! Much to my surprise, Sy mentioned he had Onslaughts latest album SIX in his car, the vinyl version, well no more was to be said – I purchased a copy immediately!
Next up on the stage were an unknown band to me, GODSLAVE, but I was reliably informed by non other that Valkyrie Lawson, an American DJ who has a show on the radio station MNR, that these guys were her “babies” and she absolutely adores their music. Well, with an accolade like that, I wasn’t going to miss these guys, and boy, was I glad I didn’t. They turned out to be one of the best bands of the day, producing some of the best metal music I’ve heard in a long time and they know how to command a crowd, in fact for the last track, they were in the crowd. Having travelled all the way from Saarbrücken, Germany (which sits on the French/German border) I believe this to be their second UK gig, the first being the day before in London, which was organised by Colin Stubbs, nice one mate! The UK needs these guys in their ears!
Stahlsarg next, from Suffolk. I’m aware these guys have just played Bloodstock festival this year so I’m also aware that they are a popular band within the black/death metal circles. I enjoyed their set, musically but unfortunately their onstage set up isn’t the best photographically – lots of smoke and a constant blue light with strobe isn’t the easiest to photograph.
Another victorious band returning from Bloodstock 2014, were up next and they go by the name Jaldaboath. I actually got to see these guys play on the Thursday night at Bloodstock, so I was pleased to get the chance to see them again on a much more intimate level. The band consists of knights from the round table and a few other merry men and their music would fit nicely in a Monty Python musical. Throughout the set they wielded swords at the crowd whilst playing tracks titled ‘Black Metal Beauty’ a piss take of the theme tune from the 1970’s TV show Black Beauty, which happened to be my favourite track from these guys. A very entertaining and a must see set live!
Totengefluster (which means whisper of the dead) were up next, and surprisingly these guys were also from Germany, The Black Forest in fact, which is a very scary place indeed so I can see where they might get their inspiration from. Musically, they opt for a Symphonic style of black metal, which is pretty hard to get right and do well, but these guys nailed it! Apparently, today’s set at Beermageddon was the bands first ever live performance, which I found astonishing really as they had more stage presence than I usually see from bands that have been around for years. It transpires that this band formed in 2007, but each member has actually played in bands before. Each did remarkably well though, considering it was certainly theatrical, inspiring, daunting, but was it artistic as they’d hoped? That’s a question I may have to ask them, if I get the opportunity to interview them. They are planning a second album and to devour the summer sun in 2015, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a solar eclipse, via Germany!
Penultimate band Divine Chaos were next, and a band I’ve been longing to see for some time and now, thanks to Beermageddon, I got to do just that! I can safely say these guys push it to the limit, with a work ethic I’ve not seen from a live gig in a while. Hailing from the South East, Benny’s cockney accent came through load and clear whilst trying to rouse up the crowd. He even managed to get the first wall of death – which got messy! By the end of their set, which was epic by the way, you could see they were all knackered, which is a good sign, as it means they gave it their all, for us the crowd, which no metal head will ever complain about. A great metal band, who would sit well at any metal festival!
Headliners tonight were the mighty Lawnmower Deth and earlier I thought I’d watch both Paddy and Pete in an interview with those lovely people at Project Alpha TV, which may have been a bad idea, as I ended up high jacking the interview – Watch the ‘Lawnmower Deth’ interview at Beermageddon 2014.
As charming as ever, these guys took us to the next level of insanity. One of the things I enjoy most about Lawnmower Deth is that you never know what’s going to happen next! I’ve seen them three or four times now and each time their set has been completely different and totally random as they don’t take themselves too seriously and you’re sure to have a great time and with Pete back at the helm tonight, we were sure of a party. We had tracks played in the wrong order, a lawnmower style wall of death that mainly consisted in everyone hugging their neighbour. The famous flying killer cobs were thrown into the crowd with devastating effect as these balls are massive and the Priory isn’t, so you do the math! A touching moment was seeing the band invite the next generation of metal heads up onto the stage, which has started to be a regular thing. Five Finger Death Punch did it at Download last year and both Hatebreed and Megadeth did it at Bloodstock this year, so why not Lawnmower Deth at Beermageddon!
In all honesty I haven’t had so much fun at a festival for a long long time and that’s saying something, and apologies going out as I couldn’t stay for the whole festival. If we get invited back next year, I’m there for all three days and I hope to see you all there again too. Until next year, stay Metal!
Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)