Category Archives: Blog

Epica

Epica with support from Myrkur and Oceans Of Slumber.
Rock City Nottingham 6th April 2017.

It feels like forever since I last attended a gig, but in fact it has only been two weeks ago. Once upon a time, I use to attend two gigs a week but truth is the gap helps me to appreciate it more, when I do eventually get out to a show and tonight’s was very much appreciated indeed and was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Here come the girls. All three bands that featured tonight, all have female vocalists and all three couldn’t be more different if they tried, yet they all complemented each other rather well, I thought!

I was given exclusive access to interview tonight’s first band ‘Oceans of Slumber’ from Huston Texas. Sadly, due to their stage time, I couldn’t get to Rock City in Nottingham early enough to conduct an interview, which saddened me greatly. Thankfully, the bands excellent PR company, The Noise Cartel, managed to organise an emailer, which you can read here.

To conduct my interview, I did undertake a fair amount of research about OSS, in preparation. To do this, I obviously had to listen to the bands music, all three albums, in fact. Their latest album ‘The Banished Heart’ clearly stands out as being a master piece and so say many other music journalists, not just me and as a collective, we can’t all be wrong! I urge you to check it out if you’re a fan of Doom/Prog music and in general, music that moves you!

Tonight’s set only consisted of five songs, which was way too short but it was no less powerful – I’ve never witnessed a crowd listen so intently! It was very moving indeed. I loved the fact that I got the opportunity to see this band live and I urge you to do the same. Singed to Century Media Records.

Set List: 1.Fleeting Vigilance 2.A Path to Broken Stars 3.Howl of the Rougarou 4.The Decay of Disregard 5.No Color No Light

Next up, a band that I have mixed emotions about, who go by the name Myrkur, which means darkness, in Icelandic. Classically-trained multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Amalie Bruun, is in fact from Denmark and primarily sings in her native tongue which is quite rare in this day and age, although music is considered a universal language so you can either relate to it, or not. This is by no means a disadvantage, in fact, it works rather well in adding to the mystery within the music she produces. After releasing only one EP, Relapse Records signed her up which is pretty impressive really. We miss you Relapse!

Considered primarily as black metal, it is very powerful indeed and was executed perfectly tonight. Incidentally, I’ve never seen a bass guitar being played with a violin bow before, but it sounded very eerie, indeed, which sums up the music you hear from this band. I’ve listened to Myrkur’s music at home since this live performance and it works and wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to the hit TV show, Vikings. Live though, I couldn’t get into it, as it’s not the sort of music you can start a mosh pit with. They play Download Festival this year as well as continuing on with Epica, so I’ll let you make your own mind up.

The bands website states Amalie is a solo artist, so she’s probably employed professional musicians to accompany her on this tour as she can’t very well play all the instruments herself, which may explain why, they guy playing guitar was very reluctant to have his photo taken tonight. Every time I pointed my camera at him, he just turned away and faced his amp. After two or three attempts, I gave up trying.

Tonight’s main event came courtesy of Epica, who are one of the best symphonic metal bands in the business. Currently touring the UK, they themselves are very much a mixture of European decent. Lead singer and fiery red head bomb shell, Simone Simons comes from the Netherlands. No disrespect to the rest of the band, as they are all born performers but Simons, in my opinion, is the main attraction in this band! As a friend (Ben Cook) stated on the night, Epica do exactly what they state ‘BE EPIC’! Simons has openly admitted that a live show should look pretty and I agree. No one want’s to stare at a band, for the best part of forty five minutes, who look at the floor and do nothing and expect you to pay for the privilege!

Signed to Nuclear Blast, Epica released the band’s sixth full length album ‘The Holographic Principle’ on September 30, 2016, and was described as the bands most ambitious offering to date. On September 1, 2017, the band released their first EP ‘The Solace System’ during the second North American leg of the tour. The EP features tracks that were planned and recorded but never included in The Holographic Principle.

The band will celebrate their 1000th show, when they reach Tilburg in the Netherlands, which should act as a home town coming. To celebrate, they have a whole days worth of entertainment planned and I’m aware many die hard fans from the UK have planned to make the trip over, to celebrate with this truly wonderful band! They are in deed epic!

Set List: 1.Eidola 2.Edge of the Blade 3.Sensorium 4.Fight Your Demons 5.The Essence of Silence 6.Storm the Sorrow 7.Ascension – Dream State Armageddon 8.Dancing in a Hurricane 9.Victims of Contingency 10.Cry for the Moon 11.Unchain Utopia 12.Once Upon a Nightmare 13.Sancta Terra 14.Beyond the Matrix 15.Consign to Oblivion

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Witch Tripper

With support from Ritual King, 28 Double and Primal.
The Hairy Dog Derby 23rd March 2018.

A week ago, yes it’s taken me this long to write a review, I was personally invited by Witch Tripper to attend their show at the Hairy Dog. Personally, I love this band so obviously I attended! To top it off, we had some great bands in support.

I’m going to assume this was a warm up show for their album launch, soon to take place at The Old Salutation Inn, in Nottingham, which will mark the release of their second album ‘I, of the storm’. We’ve also been granted access to this album, ahead of its official launch on the 14th of April 2018 and it’s a corker but more on that in a bit!

Up first tonight, we had Primal who are a three piece rock band from Nottingham or so their Facebook says – it also says they are from Derby, maybe they moved? I’ve not encountered this band before and they openly admit that their chosen style of music is a little different from the other bands on tonight’s bill. None the less, they do play a style of rock that leans more towards the Deftones, rather than the psychedelic tones of say, Ritual King. I enjoyed what I saw and with a few more shows, maybe even getting on as a support band for a decent tour around the UK, this would offer the band an opportunity to figure out their stage presence and live performance style, which sadly was lacking in parts tonight. Primal currently have a new four track EP out and I would certainly recommend giving it a listen, especially to fans of Rival Sons and Black Keys!

Next up were Derby based, 28 Double, who I first saw a few months ago, again, supporting Witch Tripper and then, I though, ok, they’ve got a style, it needs work but they had potential. Back then, I picked up on the similarities in Nick’s vocal style and sound, to that of Miles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) who he openly admits is one of his idols, vocally. Tonight’s performance was a triumphant success, in my eyes, as they appear to have grown in confidence which showed on stage. Rob’s guitar playing is impeccable and is mesmerizing to watch. Gav’s got his bass face down to a T, along with his instrument! Nick has certainly improved on his stage presence and banter with the crowd, he even had time to pose for selfies, whilst performing on stage! He also appears to have discovered some new dance moves, all be it questionable, as far as dancing goes, but he appeared to be enjoying himself up on stage! Their new music is sounding really good too and if you can, check out their track ‘Grind’ what a banger that is and in my opinion, they need to do more with this track, like releasing a music video or something? Keep it up lads – I thoroughly enjoyed your set!

It’s always a pleasure to see Ritual King (who are from Manchester), appear on a bill and tonight was no exception! In my opinion, this band deserve to be massive! Whilst speaking with the band outside, they told me that their biggest listener base is actually in America! They also announced that they’ll be performing at a HRH event later in the year, not sure if it’s been officially announced yet, so I won’t say which one but I’m sure you can guess though! The first time I saw this band, their regular bassist couldn’t attend so I was keen to see how Dan would fair. Jordan’s well into his guitar playing, which is clearly evident, as are all three band members but when you play stoner, you have to be, I guess! I love their psychedelic sound, it’s still one of my favourite genres at the moment and as you’d expect, these guys are all about the music. Stage presence came courtesy of Dan, who was a box of frogs on stage tonight which helped me get more involved! According to Jordan, if the band manage to write one song a month, they’re happy with that so I suggest getting yourself a copy of the bands latest EP ‘Earthrise’ as you may be waiting a while for a full length album!

As stated, Witch Tripper have their second album coming out, titled ‘I, of the Storm’ on the 14th of April. Not sure why the album title isn’t ‘eye’ of the storm but I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation – I will be sure to ask, the next time I see the band. The album was recorded at Electric Bear in Mansfield, by Phil Abraham and took all of five whole days, to complete, which is pretty impressive. This album has been a labour of love, for Ritchie in particular, who has penned most of the lyrics. I’d love to know where his head was at, when he wrote the lyrics for the track ‘Poonstar’ – or would I, as I’m not sure getting inside his head is a good idea, to be honest with you! Haha!

I’ve also recently discovered Ritchie’s love for road markings, hence the track ‘White Lines’ cough! Both of these tracks are belters, but for me, tracks ‘Roll The Dice’ and ‘Hell Bound’ really stand out, as they are 100% Witch Tripper bangers! ‘Roll The Dice’ sums this band up perfectly. Deep, bluesy rock with thunderous bass lines, sumptuous riffs and heavy bashing of the skins that is deep and soulful. Ritchie’s voice suites this track exceptionally well, what with his deep gravel tones. Throughout this album and it’s nine tracks, you are made acutely aware of this bands talents and musicianship. For some reason, when ever I listen to this album, I can’t help but think of Alice Cooper, I can’t imagine why? Although the number of live shows this year are nowhere near as many as last years 86 growlers, Witch Tripper have got some great shows coming up. Obviously, their album launch is fast approaching which promises to be a great night, they’ve also got HRH Ibiza coming up along with Amplified Festival and Facebarmegeddon plus there are many other dates in between aswell, so be sure to catch them at a show real soon! AND BUY THEIR NEW ALBUM, IT’S KILLA! Peace!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

HRH Metal

Sunday’s live review of stages 2 and 3
O2 Academy Birmingham 18th February 2018.

With the dust still settling from the rather excellent day one of HRH Metal 2018, Sunday’s bands were raring to go and getting things well under way over on Stage 3, were Devil’s Playground. Taking a few on stage technical difficulties all in their stride, Devil’s Playground ignited the audience into action with a forty minute set that was built to impress. With Leanne sadly missing from the bands line up today, Katie King from Cenfora owned that mic in her absence and all in all, Devil’s Playground set the bar pretty high for all those about to follow.

Next up on Stage 3 were the Nottingham based band, Incinery who brought about our first taste of thrash for the day. With their fast, furious and merciless metal assault prevailing, the crowd did not hold back their appreciation and this was most definitely a set that went down a storm!

With today’s events over on Stage 1 getting underway at 3pm, the pressure to be in two places at the same time commenced and resulted in me only catching the last few songs of Vice’s set but what I did see and hear was pretty impressive, as was their performance and the way that this band gel so well together. Discovering new bands is a real draw to HRH Metal for me and this band is one that I will certainly be looking out for in the future.

In these parts of the West Midlands, our next band up on Stage 3 are pretty much everyday hero’s so it was no surprise at all, to witness The Mighty Wraith playing to a pretty packed out hall. With their adrenaline fuelled metal ramped for maximum impact, the atmosphere in the room was fantastic and judging by the size of the smile on vocalist Matt Gore’s face, this was one gig that they will happily reflect on for a long time to come.

Trivax next and here we have yet another West Midlands based band who stand in a league of their own, with their blackest of metal taking on a life of its own. There is an addictive air of intense turmoil to be experienced within this bands music, which I find to be both foreboding yet magnetic when caught in it’s grip – an excellent set from Trivax and one of my favourite performances of the day.

Nightmare World were next to pick up the metal gauntlet and deliver a set that was both charismatic and melodic in it’s style. The band have announced that they are now intending to start work on a second album so do keep checking their Facebook page for more news on that aswell as future gigs.

Sadly, with all three stages now in full swing by the time I galloped back to Stage 3 to catch Skarthia, they had just finished their set so apologies to the band for not making it back there in time to see them play live. I did however manage to catch the rather fantastic Sister Shotgun and I have to hand it to Chloe Ozwell for completely owning this set and if you like your metal laced with lashings of rage, vocal power and va-va-voom, then Sister Shotgun are just what you’re looking for!

Closing out Stage 3 in their own unique and unforgiving style were Dead Hands, whose performance tonight was nothing short of savage! Dead Hands have a wildly alternative approach to their sound and I found myself making the comparison to the now disbanded band Heck, who also had that same crazy ability to detonate on impact. With Stage 3 having been a hive of activity over these past two days and having provided the most discerning of metalheads with some pretty awesome bands to relish, it would only be right to go out on a ferocious high and that was exactly what happened – courtesy of Dead Hands.

With Stage 2 getting underway at 5pm in the O2 Academy’s upstairs hall, I briefly managed to catch the most brutal of attacks courtesy of Swansea’s own, Lifer. This band have quite a reputation for producing a tempestuous onslaught of combined thrash metal, doom and southern style rock that sits within a league of its own and from what I witnessed of their performance today, this bands metal is seriously good!

Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of seeing the birth and to follow the journey of many great up and coming bands and Torous, who were next up on Stage 2, easily sit within that category. Tonight’s set from the band served a very special purpose indeed as it was to be their final performance, so it was destined to be a bitter sweet event from the start. Bathed in blazing white light, the visual impact they delivered was as spectacular as their music and all in all, it was an amazing and emotional epitaph for both band and audience alike.

The final band that I managed to catch over on Stage 2 were Attica Rage and this set also held great meaning to all those present, with it being the final performances for guitarist Stevie Bell whose impending departure was announced last month. Hell bent on making this an occasion to remember, Attica Rage gave the audience an A+ set and as with many of the other bands who played over this two day event, they certainly gave HRH Metal their all.

In addition to stages 2 and 3, I also caught some pretty awesome performances over on Stage 1 today and if you would like to check out more of the photos from all three stages, then just hit the link and check out the gallery over on Flickr!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.