Category Archives: Festival reviews

HRH Doom Vs Stoner

O2 Academy Sheffield 29th September 2018.

Now in it’s third year, it’s of no surprise that this particular event just keeps getting better and better! With the wealth of bands available within these genres, the band bookers must have a daunting task when it comes to booking a festival such as this, as they just don’t know how us, the general public will react! I think its safe to say, HRH is one of only a few festival that get it right, virtually every time! This year was exceptional but we were only able to attend the Saturday.

Having seen the line up for the Sunday, which looked even better (if that’s possible), we were feeling a little bummed that we couldn’t attend both days! I’ve now also seen next years line up and my word, it’s going to be an absolute cracker…AGAIN! Monolord headlining, we’re there! Before that though, we wanted to pen a few words about this year, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

Proceedings kicked off around 2pm, which gave us plenty of time to get up to Sheffield, get parked and say our hellos. At first, I thought attendance was a little thin on the ground but as the first band took to the stage, we were virtually crammed to the rafters in both rooms for the duration of the days event.

First up this weekend we had a rather hungover Sedulus – according to them, however that didn’t stop these psychedelic stoners from London, blowing away the cobwebs that had formed since my last outing, which was back in August for Beermageddon! Surprisingly, I even managed to obtain a smile from Rich, one of the band’s guitarists, which is unusual from the first band of the day but it was welcomed non the less. The other guitarist, Amit, hid behind his long black hair, which was more of what I was expecting to be honest, especially considering the genre of bands appearing today! These guys are all about the music, which is fair enough. Luckily for them, I love both these genres, so I persevered!

As Stage 2 hadn’t opened yet, the day continued with the second band on the main stage today, who go by the name Ancestors! These guys had travelled a very long way to be here today, all the way from Los Angeles in fact! The fact it took longer than allocated for them to get set up must of really upset them as it would appear Justin’s guitar was producing more power than it should have and when he tried to pick up his lead, to plug it into his guitar, he let out an almighty scream, as it gave him one hell of a shock! Once they got going, it was no surprise to see most of the stage lights go out, as these guys play a mixture of Post-Metal, Post-Rock, Progressive, Psychedelic, Doom Metal, Space Rock, all rolled into a very hedonistic one hour set! I enjoyed this bands creativity and their experimental sound. Their set also awarded me one of my more dramatic images of the day, with light beams all a glow!

As Desert Storm were up next, I decided to hang about for them! I generally have this band on repeat most days, so to see them play live was a real treat and thankfully, they didn’t disappoint! Matt’s vocals have so much gravel in, he’s practically spitting out sand! He also has the best swagger about him on stage, which suits the bands music perfectly! Even if people weren’t dancing (the majority were) just watching his hypnotic moves would be enough to find yourself swaying along with him! I love this bands bouncy beats as they accompany their riffs perfectly!

Sadly, I had no time to hang about as The Grudge were tearing it up, up stairs on stage 2, so off I swayed to check them out. The Grudge are new to me but after today’s performance, I’m hoping it won’t be the last time I see them – what a band! They had room 2 jumping along with them, especially Javier, one of the bands bouncier guitarists, who I later discovered, after speaking with him, is Spanish! This fact leads me onto four people in particular, who all turned up dressed as priests today! At first I thought they were all dressing up as Brother Pain, from Evil Scarecrow but it turns out they too, were also from Spain and thought dressing up would be a cool way to talk to people! What a great idea and it’s nice to see European fans making the effort to come to a festival, here in the UK!

As Ritual King were on this stage next, I thought I’d stick about! This was my third time seeing this particular band now, the first two of which were in my home town, Derby, when they supported those lovely fellas Witch Tripper, both bands I love! I recall having a conversation about this very show with the band back then and as I’m generally a man of my word (and I think they’re great) here I am, ready and waiting! I have to say, tonight’s HRH performance is the best I’ve see this band perform, as they appeared to go above and beyond, probably to coincide with the energy from the crowd and there was many in attendance! What a band and yet only a three piece! How they manage to create the sounds they do, is beyond me! If I was to hazard a guess, I’d have to say it’s down to the three very talented musicians that make up Ritual King from Manchester! Take a bow guys!

As Gevaudan were the only other band I saw on stage 2 (sorry Cybernetic Witch Cult) I’ll briefly say, what I saw, I thoroughly enjoyed! They also have an absolute legend in the band ‘Bruce Hamilton’ on guitar, who’s an avid music fan as well as a very talented musician and who I’ve personally encountered many times, over the years! I don’t think he recognised me though! Snigger! The band had great energy tonight and played up to the ladies in the crowd!

Throughout the day and up to the point OHHMS took to the stage, I’d had many conversations with people about this band, all of which said they really enjoyed them and I would too, so I was expecting a lot to be honest. They were certainly one of the most photogenic bands to shoot today, which was great. Musically, they were even better! I noticed the bassist had a child’s shoe strapped to his guitar neck, so later I asked him what the significance of this was. Apparently, it’s one of his four children’s items of clothing, he has attached to various pieces of equipment, which helps him to know he’s thinking of them, which I though was a lovely gesture! The bands vocalist was very charismatic and theatrical, who showed how a front man should be! Great to watch, even better to hear!

Elephant Tree were my find of the day though, having never seen or heard their music before, I was blown away with what I saw and heard. Their performance will live within my memory banks for a long time to come! Something about them appealed to me greatly, I think it had something to do with the great music they produced, yeah that’s gotta be it! Great set today and I can’t wait to see them play again. The sooner the better to be honest! It’s worth mentioning, I saw the bands bassist and lead vocalist having a right old jig during Stoned Jesus’ set! What a character!

Stoned Jesus are phenomenal noise makers, atmospheric and again, another three piece! Just check out their track ‘I’m the Mountain’ to see what I mean! This track is one of my all time favourites and seeing them perform it live was a real treat! Although I can’t attend every gig or festival that I’d like, the ones I do get to attend are all amazing for their own reasons! I’m quite lucky really, when I think about it and it’s truly humbling when I’m given the opportunity to witness a band, such as Stoned Jesus! These guys are future headliners, for sure! I’m aware these guys are currently on tour, so check them out if you haven’t already, although I know at least 45,000 people who have and I now they get these guys, as do I!

As headliners go, they don’t get much better than Elder, to be honest! The funny thing is, I saw both these guys AND Monolord at Dessertfest, opening the days events at KOKO, back in 2016! Now both these bands have worked their way to headlining slots, which is great to see! For their headline set, Elder enforced a three track rule, which I found Hilarious! If you’re a fan of these genres, you’ll know a fourth track equates to a full length album. Anyway, they opened with ‘Dead Roots Rising’ which is an incredible (12 minute) song, which only gets better at the playing time of 9:35! Hearing this track again live and by the time they reached that magical moment, I found I’d been transformed into a space goat and was floating within a mystical void, within my mind! This experience will certainly go down as one of many great musical moments I’ve witnessed over the years!

Thanks yet again to my HRH family, for a truly memorable event! Roll on 2019 and their 4th instalment!

To see more photographs from the day, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Beermageddon

Stoke Prior Bromsgrove Saturday 25th August 2018.

Now in it’s seventh year, this festival has sold out every year since its conception and 2018 has been no exception. In one respect this fact is remarkable, especially when you consider the amount of festivals that have fallen by the wayside this year but when you look at what Beermageddon delivers over the three days of the August Bank Holiday weekend, its hardly a surprise that this event is such a success!

Evil Scarecrow’s drum tech likened Beermageddon to a mini New Blood stage reunion and some, I’ll take that! When you look at the quality of bands on offer, the ability to park next to your tent for free and see many of the same people, for a third of the price, it’s a no brainer really! I believe Bloodstock coined the phrase ‘coming home’ when attending a festival and many other festivals appear to be catching on with its meaning but I’ve ALWAYS felt at home when I’ve attended Beermageddon – I love my fellow Geddonites, each and every one of them!

As with the past couple of years, I’ve only be able to attend the Saturday at Beermageddon, as I have to rely on others (the details of which I won’t go into here) but I am eternally grateful to those involved, as it allows me to attend at least one of the three days on offer! My only reason for mentioning this, is to apologies to the bands that played on the Friday and the Sunday, it’s nothing personal, I wish we could have been there to see you all, but alas, it just wasn’t possible!

As the Saturday is Beermageddon’s second day, it was no surprise that the bands started at 2pm, as many attendees would most likely be nursing a hangover from the previous days events! Bang on 2pm and our first offering was primed and ready to rock our socks off and they go by the name Jackal’s Backbone and this quartet hail from North Hertfordshire and just so happen to have a self proclaimed female front woman, who packs a mighty punch, both vocally and through her low tuned bass guitar!

Shall I go into the whole ‘female fronted’ phrase being sexist, or not…….. I will say this, it’s not being sexiest, it’s merely a description that gets to the point as when stated, you can either relate or not but that doesn’t mean the band are any better or worse for the fact, as is the case with male fronted bands. I’m aware people feel very strongly about this topic, but the fact woman are being recognised more and more within the metal community is something I’ve personally championed for a long time! I’m far from being sexiest, believe me, cheeky, maybe, but not a sexiest!

Seven Hells are a bands I’ve enjoyed watching immensely this year, although I’ve only seen them twice. I was instantly blown away when I saw them perform at Uprising this year and I’ve been hearing great things from other people who’ve also seen them play the likes of Bloodstock and of course, here at Beermageddon. Marc Cross is a true inspiration and is someone who never gives up on a dream, which is something I admire greatly about him. It appears, he’s found the band for him and together they are destined to do great things together! I caught up with the band after their extremely well executed set, you can listen to what the band said, here – https://youtu.be/4nW5oDYck9g

Due to conducting my interview, sadly, I missed most of Trivax’s set so apologies to them, however, the last song I did see appeared to be going down very well with the crowd, so I’ll be on the look out for these guys, where ever possible.

Agrona are new to me and this is why I love attending this festival as Beermageddon certainly has it’s finger firmly on the pulse, when it comes to emerging talent, not only domestically, but globally as well. Although this Blackened Metal outfit are from another country (strictly speaking) it’s only as far as Wales, Cardiff to be precise! Although the genre isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, you can’t take anything away from the bands within it and the lengths at which they go to make their live shows as theatrical as possible! I loved this band, they certainly helped to spark my imagination and I’d like to think this showed on the photos I produced.

Twilight Embrace are a band that I discovered at the first ever Beermageddon, way back in 2011 and I distinctively recall how impressed I was with the bands vocalist Andy and the power in which he executed an awe-inspiring set, they blew my socks off! Little did I know at that time but that performance was in fact his first ever with the band. I’ve also learned today that the band have been trying to get rid of him ever since! Only Joking! The band have been very quite of late due to life simply getting in the way, however, when this festivals organisers heard of their re-emergence back to the land of live music, they didn’t hesitate to book them for this years event and I for one, am glad to see these guys back at it. With the promise of a new album currently in the writing process, I hope I’ll get another opportunity to see these guys play again soon!

Shadow Flag were up next and these guys too, have left a lasting impression on me, thanks mostly to their amazing set here today which almost felt like a headlining gig as it seemed to fly by! Hailing from Cheltenham, these guys are a stones throw away from Amplified Festival and knowing this, if I ever get asked, I’d certainly recommend this band to that festivals organisers in a heart beat. In all honestly, that statement would be true for every band I saw here today, as they were all very talented bands!

Greves, a Melodic Black Metal band….I never knew you could get melodic black metal, ah, the wonders of genres never ceases to amaze me – anyway, these four guys win a medal for travelling all the way from North Carolina to be here with us today. They also go down in this festivals history books as they are Beermageddon’s first ever cross Atlantic band and do you know what, they weren’t that bad! Personally, I thought they aired more on the side of a thrash metal band, what with all the fret work produced by David in his jaw dropping guitar solos – I love a good guitar solo, who doesn’t! Their energy was great, they were humble and all round nice guys. To be honest. I wish them all the luck in the world and hope to see them again sometime, when they’re massive and selling out arenas! I wonder if they’ll remember me then? Only time will tell!

Thankfully, Jim saved his ace card for the last band and my word, what a band! MartYriuM come all the way from Malta, that hardened metal music loving nation……hang on, I’ve been to Malta and the people there are as far from the Blackened Industrial Death Metal band I see before me now! Clearly, your origins do not define you or the music you love to produce and these guys are a true testament to that statement!

I quote “MartYriuM’s performances are both aggressive and theatrical, full of dark acts and occult imagery that will unleash infernal chaos from within your wretched soul”. Seriously, if this statement alone doesn’t get you excited, then I hope the images I produced during this bands amazing headline set, will! I’m counting the days to when I can witness this band perform again! Unbelievable, my jaw still hurts from when it hit the floor! Take a bow guys!

Well, after the conversations I’ve had, the bands I’ve seen, the great food I’ve eaten and of course, the beer I’ve drank, it’s just helped to reaffirm my belief that Beermageddon truly is a hidden gem of a festival, just waiting for you to discover it too!

Until next year, keep it metal, the blacker, the better! I’m now off to eat a ham and pineapple pizza!

In Jim Beerman we trust! Beer, Beer, Beermageddon!

To see more photographs from the day, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Amplified Festival 2018

Quarrydowns Gloucestershire – Sunday 8th July.

Sunday, so soon! I was having so much fun as well! Still, I do have almost a full day ahead of me! Sadly I couldn’t stay the whole day but thought I’d stick around long enough to immerse myself within the bands who were scheduled to appear today. Out of the line up, there were one or two I definitely had to see and maybe some surprises, I never knew existed! Glad I stuck about to be honest!

As I sat, basking in the sunshine, enjoying my morning breakfast cob, I got a message, asking me If I wanted to interview Doyle, from his UK PR agent! I sat there and pondered for a minute, then thought, ah, why not but more on that later!

The first band over on the VMA stage who really grabbed my attention, were King Leviathan. These guys play blackened thrash metal, so no surprise they appealed to my senses then, is it! These guys hail from Brighton and were founded in 2014. In a very short space of time, it would appear that they are making a lasting impression – one gig at a time, on the people who go to see them at a live show. Thankfully, I managed to see them at Amplified Festival although I’m aware they are appearing at another prestigious metal festival, in a couple of weeks. Someone, far more intelligent than me, proclaimed that these guys are three gigs away from entering the stratosphere within their genre! And the best of luck to them as from what I saw, they’ve certainly got the potential – go for it!

It just so happens, that the far more intelligent and undoubtedly better looking person I previously referred to, features in the next band I’d like to speak about and they go by the name of Resin. Yes, you guessed it, it’s Simon Yarwood I’m speaking about and I love this human being! Not only does he play guitar within Resin, he himself is a pioneering figure within the music community, as he is one of the organisers behind Uprising Festival. He also does a lot to promote other bands through his promotion company “Resin Events” but I think that’s enough sucking up for one review, so back to todays set!

The band have just released their new album ’The Cycle of Need’ after having successfully reached their pledge campaign target. I’ve managed to listen to it and can confirm it’s very good. It’s well thought out musically and you can hear that a lot of work has gone into producing this album, which is very clear from the off! Dave’s voice has a striking resemblance to Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, as does their music but that is by no means a bad thing! Emma, on the violin, helps to give a very unique dynamic and sound to the band, which I loved hearing today! All told, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Resin today, despite failing to get certain members to smile!

The next band I caught up with over the main stage today were Tequila Mockingbyrd and these gals genuinely blew me away! It’s hard not to comment on the fact that Louisa, Jacinta and Josie are absolutely gorgeous but equally as important, is the fact that they are VERY talented as musicians too and given the right opportunities, like Amplified Festival, I can’t think of anything that will stop Tequila Mockingbyrd from going on to become mega superstars!

Whilst on the subject of female superstars, I also managed to see the super talented Soap Girls over on G’s bar stage today. These ladies are beautifully bizarre and also have the kind of approach to their post punk/rock that makes them stand out from others. Sure, they’re racy and yes, they do play semi naked, which isn’t to everyone’s liking but they don’t bow down to hateful opinions either and I applaud them for that and not letting the reactions of some, spoil it for the rest of us.

As the day went on and time drew ever closer to meeting up with Doyle, I received a request from Doyle’s manager for The Soap Girls to join us for the interview. Well it’s safe to say that my interview didn’t go quite as I’d planned……. so if feeling awkward is your thing, then you’re gonna love this interview for sure. (https://youtu.be/5tgG8Pp2Kps)

Thankfully, I did get to see the legendary guitarist play his set, which was kinda weird yet super exciting all at the same time. Doyle was everyone’s main focus – I think I looked over at one point, whilst photographing the rest of the band and there must of been about twenty photographers stood in front of him, twenty photographers I hadn’t seen all weekend, to be honest! There is a core bunch of us who try to see every act throughout the weekend, or at the very least, cover as much as possible like in my case (little old me) all on my own. It’s hard work, but we do it because we love it!

Alex, the bands singer, was clearly zoned into his own little world, yet coherent and loving life and this stance awarded me with one of my most favourite shots from the whole weekend! It’s just him perched on the end of the stage looking into space – most likely seeing dead people dancing around but I love it, it’s a real moment!

After seeing Doyle, I had to leave to save my family from the In-laws house, which disappointed me greatly as it meant I had to miss so many other amazing bands, like legends Therapy!

There’s always next time, I guess, providing I get invited back and by all accounts, Amplified Festival 2019 is already looking very likely, which is ace news and I will be buying a ticket for next year, to show my continued support for the festival, as I believe it’s one of the great summer events of the festival calendar! I’m glad to see so many others share my sentiments as well, as the pre-sale tickets which went on sale straight after this years event, sold out in record time. So fast in-fact, they released another 50 more!

I’m biased, I guess, but with very good reason as I know a good thing when I see it. I just hope I see you there in 2019, having a good time like me! BOOYA!

Be sure to visit us over on Flickr for more photos from Amplified 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)