Category Archives: Festival reviews

Midlands Metal Crusade

25th November at The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton.

Hils Ovations Midlands Metal Crusades have now become a regular and much looked forward to celebration of the Midlands metal scene and today’s event at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton see’s it’s seventh reincarnation ready to roar.

And getting today’s immense shenanigan’s underway were the exceptionally talented Devils Playground, who really have given their all this year and stamped their mark firmly upon the West Midlands local metal scene. With a stage performance awash in energy and attitude, it was easy to see why this band scored such a great hit at this years Bloodstock and with such talent and enthusiasm that continually seems to grow, I can’t wait to see what this band will bring about next.

Our second band of the day were the deliciously colourful SID who despite being a very recent addition to today’s line up, had a pretty hearty crowd of fans ready, willing and waiting for them to get up on stage and do their thing! SID’s set was as always, full of metal character and there is never a dull moment to be had when these guys are around as their stage presence is equally as charismatic as their music.

Next up and a firm favourite of mine were Netherhall. I wholeheartedly admire this band as they bring to the airwaves a uniqueness that is born out of a progressive creativity which just seems to know no boundaries. Today’s set from Netherhall held The Slade Rooms captive and was an absolute pleasure to experience.

With 5.30pm fast approaching, it was time for relative newcomers Torqued to take to the stage. But having described them as that, there was absolutely no denying that the ability, experience and no bullshit approach that these guys have for their metal, is propelling them in exactly the right direction – and fast!

Marking the mid-way point of the day were Master’s Call and here we have a band whose brand of blackened death metal is both brutal and disturbing to the point of perfection. Lead singer Shayan, cuts a menacing dark figure on stage, which most definitely adds to the impressive stance that this band deliver.

Our next band to take to the stage were Fire Red Empress and recent months have seen anticipation growing for the release of the band’s outstanding album, ‘Black Morphine‘, which I have to say is something they can TRULY be proud of. With several tracks included in tonight’s performance, their thirty minute set flew by way too fast but I’m very pleased to say that Fire Red Empress will be back at The Slade Rooms again for Hils Ovation on 20th January 2018, so get that date down in your diary now as this gig will be one that your really don’t want to miss!

Fire Red Empress – ‘GIANTS’ Official Video.

2017 has been quite a year for Vicious Nature and just as their popularity continues to grow, so do they musically and for me, the set that they delivered tonight was one of the highlights of the day. It’s always great to see a band enjoying their performance as much as their audience and factors such as that really do fuel the anticipation for what comes next, which I understand will be a new EP so I shall definitely look forward to that!

Our penultimate band of the day were At Dawn We Attack and with their endless energy and adrenaline free flowing throughout the entirety of their set, these guys really put their own stamp of excellence to the day. With guest vocalists also joining them up on stage, their was no shortage of community spirit to be enjoyed which was really quite something to be a part of.

And without further ado, it was time for our guest headliners of the day to hit the stage and much to the audible appreciation of The Slade Rooms audience, that is exactly what Orange Goblin did. With a small army of Orange Goblin troops in attendance, there was no denying that they got the performance that they came to see, with songs such as ‘Scorpionica‘, ‘The Filthy & The Few‘ and the rather epic ‘Red Tide Rising‘ being included within tonight’s set list choice and bringing today’s top notch event to a rousing close.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Quinphonic Festival

The Tower of Song, Birmingham 8th October 2017.

So a week ago today, we attended the 5th installment of The Quinphonic Festival, which is a festival dedicated to all those bands that consists of five unique instruments, including the voice. It’s not necessarily a celebration of females within metal but they do try to include them within the band, where ever possible, in celebration of the fact that woman can rock too! I for one praise this stance too, as I appreciate woman that rock, in a widely male dominated profession. I mean, there’s only so many hairy sweaty men I can look at though my camera! I appreciate female musicians as much as the next man, if done well. The promoter responsible for putting on these events is a Ian Black, who I got to meet in person today for the first time and I can confirm, his profile picture looks exactly like him! We had a great chat about all thing Quinphonic and the music scene in general. The first thing to strike me about this man is he’s a conscientious promoter, who believes that any band willing to play for him, deserves to get paid for their efforts. We all know this isn’t always the case and many promoters could learn a lesson from this man.

Today’s gig very nearly didn’t go ahead as the original venue, as billed on the flyers, was The Roundhouse in Birmingham, which has since closed only days before this event was to take place, which left Ian in the lurch as he’d already paid to hire the venue! This meant he had to ring around and find a new venue with only four days to go so that Quinphonic 5 could take place. Thankfully, the lesser known Tower of Song venue said they would be willing to host Ian and his five unique bands, who were all still willing to travel a very long way to play this event. Having secured a new venue and all five bands still willing to perform, Quinphonic 5 could still take place. Well done to the venue – ‘I feel they deserve a round of applause, as does Ian for keeping his cool and sourcing a replacement at such short notice, so no one was disappointed’!

Orpheum, were up first and hail from our very own London town and play Gothic Progressive metal. I was suitably impressed with Erin, the bands female lead vocalist and her ability to belt out those high notes. The bass was heavy, the drums were dark and the guitar was loud and when they all combined, they made sweetly depressing music, music which the crowd very much enjoyed. Having no stage, a full capacity of 85 people and no pit, meant taking photos was hard to do but thanks to my spider like abilities, I managed we weave my way through the hoards of people and get a few, half decent shots of this band. The photos actually turned out better than I was expecting to be honest, despite the fact the lights were three inches from the bands faces and an intense array of colours! After this bands set, they were mobbed for merch which does say a lot, to be honest!

For what ever reason, I’ve never associated metal bands and France, other than Gojira, I suppose. It’s not a part of the world I would associate with metal bands, however, the next band, to take to the floor were the wonderfully creative Weend’Ô, who play a blend of progressive rock and metal, with a dash of reggae, courtesy of the bands extremely capable bass player, Maxime. Laetitia, the bands vocalist, keyboard player and band manager is a very hypnotic performer indeed and drew me into believing I like prog music, with her mesmerising and convincing performance tonight. Sure, some of their song went on forever which is to be expected, considering their chosen genre but with every note played, you could see the band were getting more and more into it and when that happens and you see a band who are truly into their music, you can’t help but get involved and enjoy it with them! A triumphant set, loved it!

Having seen Zephyra (yes, spelt it right again!) for the first time at another brummy based promoters event, the wider known Beermageddon, I was thrilled to be offered another opportunity to see this band perform live again, as I was blown away at Beermageddon! In Jim Beerman we trust! Anyway, arse licking aside, Zephyra were by far the heaviest band on the bill and they proved that, with their performance tonight, which is just what the crowd needed to liven things up again after an hour long set of prog music! (No offence!) The bands female lead vocalist Åsa has a great personality and interacts with her audience well. I think she’s great and could watch her perform all day! Her Swedish accent makes for great entertainment, as her English gets a little jumbled up, which does make for great comedy value at times, but lets face it, her English is much better than my Swedish, which is zero by the way. This band are a great metal band and we would love to see them perform here in the UK again!

As for tonight’s last two performances, courtesy of Alia Tempora and Wildpath, I believe I missed two epic sets due to a family matter preventing me from staying the whole night, so apologies to you!

All in all and considering the odds, Ian managed to pull off the impossible and maintain todays epic day and celebration of international musicians, who also happen to feature a female, within the band. That, in my book is a winner and if we can attend The ‘Quinphonic’ Festival 6 event, due to take place on the 1st of April, 2018, we’d love to!

Festival History:

The Quinphonic Festival is a concept conceived by three friends who have supported the Female Fronted Metal / Rock scene for many years. The idea was to create a festival featuring acts from the UK and Europe in which the five bands taking part, hence the ‘Quinphonic‘, would all have equal billing, all play a full one hour set and be paid an equal share of all the profits made from ticket sales. For more information follow The Quinphonic Festival on facebook.

Connect:

https://www.facebook.com/quinphonicfest/

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

HRH Doom Vs Stoner

O2 Academy Sheffield 30th September – 1st October 2017.

Wow, this was over a week ago already, yet I’m still buzzing from my experience at this great event. As we all know, the HRH brand is ever evolving. What started as an annual rock meeting, we look at the brand now and they have multiple events going on throughout the year, including HRH, Hammerfest, AOR, PROG, Metal, Sci-fi weekender and this weekends event Doom v Stoner, which is now into it’s second year.

Not only do they put on some great live events, they now also have a dedicated radio station, where not only do they champion many of the artists they’ve already featured at their live music shows but they also feature up and coming stars, who aspire to play at a one of HRH’s live events in the future. They now also have a full length magazine, which covers all manner of interesting topics, all geared around the fans that attend these events. It’s not a bad read, to be honest, some of the live event shots are a little ropey, they should ask decent photographer to take pictures……only joking Simon, keep up the good work!

On arrival, I was greeted by my favourite HRH face and press liaison, Claire. We always have a good natter and a catch up before any event starts. I’d like to think my cheerful personality helps to lift her somewhat tattered spirits, by this point, what with all the stress she goes through, leading up to the event.

I also got to speak with main man Johnny, uninterrupted, for a change! It’s always a pleasure speaking to the HRH event organiser. I got to ask him his opinion on all things music industry related and it’s always interesting to get his views on an array of specific topics. First and foremost, Johnny is a business man, who also happens to love his music. He always has time to talk to the music fans that attend his events and he strives to put on one hell of a show, which ever genre it may be.

HRH have managed to secure the use of the excellently equipped O2 arenas, in both Birmingham (Metal) and Sheffield (Doom v Stoner and NWOBHM), for their weekend events, which is great for us music goers because they a purpose built. Here’s an interesting fact, I discovered the venue use to be called ‘Roxy Lounge” back in the day and you can still see a neon sign saying as such, in the upstairs bar area! Saying that, we never seem to be lucky with the lighting at HRH events though which is a shame, as with all those lights at the Engineer’s disposal, he always seems to only manage to find the red light switch! In his defense, the first two bands on the main stage, only asked for red lighting?? Seriously, if you want good shots to accompany our reviews, please, please, PLEASE be a little more creative with your lighting choices, as no photographers I know are likely to give a band a good review, if they have to shoot them in red lighting, FACT – I don’t care what your mates in other bands have told you, red lighting sucks!

Kicking off Saturday, up in room 2, we had Regulus performing an acoustic set, which now seems a little odd as I saw them perform a proper live set later in the day on the main stage and they seriously kick ass! These guys lean more on the stoner side of the dual, although they don’t produce a true stoner sound, as they have some heavy metal elements in there aswell. From what I can gather, since the bands formation, they’ve managed to release two EP’s, the first being ‘The End’ in 2013 and ‘Titan Moon’ in 2014. They have also managed to release their debut LP, titled ‘The Quadralith’ recently, which is available on double 12″ vinyl. These guys are from Sheffield, so today must have felt like a home town show, only on a really big stage! We look forward to catching these guys on the road again soon.

The next band to catch my eye were Red Spektor, who are yet another great three piece who hail from Stoke on Trent and are championed, by none other than Mr. Dunkerley himself. These guys were never originally billed to perform this weekend from what I can gather, but due to a cancellation, they got drafted in at short notice and stepped up to the mark, which stands them in good stead for future performances, at HRH events. The crowd appeared to love them and we did too.

Boss Keliod are a band we’ve known of for some time now, I was even convinced I’d seen them play before, turns out they played Uprising Festival, this year, which we sadly missed, so as soon as they took to the stage and started performing, I knew straight away I hadn’t yet had the pleasure, na, the privilege of seeing them perform up until now – what a unique act, indeed. From Wigan, these guys are signed to Black Bow Records and they produce a magnificent blend of stoner rock with effects, courtesy of Alex, via his pedal, which his mic runs through and I could tell he enjoyed creating some crazy ass sounds, through this contraption! Not a band who takes themselves too seriously, which was evident during today’s performance, as someone in the crowd would demonstrate. All I’ll say is, Alex used the hecklers cries to his advantage and the crowd took his side and played along with the jokes. All the big press know who these guys are and love them as much as us. ‘We can’t wait to see these guys perform again, given the opportunity’!

The next band on stage 2, was PIST and by this point in the day, most people were, so aptly named! These guys have elements of DOWN as their musical influences but on the day, I got a more traditional metal feel from these guys. The crowd was packed to the rafters for their set and it would appear many of which, have seen this band perform before considering the banter between them, which made for great photos but you had to be quick, as they weren’t hanging about! According to their social media page, they have recently announced a new tour, for 2018, with Battalions and thankfully, they have a date in Nottingham, so we’re going to try our hardest to be there, if they will have us, as ‘we loved this bands energy and sound’!

St. Vitus are a band who need no introduction, as they’ve been dooming stages since 1979! It would appear HRH love these guys, as they appear quite frequently on various bills, whether that be for Hard Rock Hell, in November, Hammerfest in March, or Doom v Stoner, in September – these guys are that versatile, they fit in with almost anything and everything. This is not a complaint either, we love this band! I last saw St.Vitus perform at Hammerfest V back in 2013, which is much longer than I thought, as it only seems like yesterday! Back then, they had Wino Weinrich on vocals but this time around they had their original singer Scott Reagers, however according to the bands social media page, the two have shared vocal duties over the years, for what ever reason, so it was nice to have seen both vocalists perform with this band. Both singers have very different styles and stage presence, which helps to give the band a completely different feel both times I’ve seen them! Personally, I couldn’t care less who sings for the band as it’s all about Dave Chandler anyway, the bands guitarist, who’s been a permanent fixture in the band since their inception. ‘What a guitarist’ – I could watch and photograph him all day long and I was mesmerised throughout most of their set tonight, amazing!

Saturdays headliners, were none other than Orange Goblin, which I was most excited about as weirdly, I’ve never photographed this band before, until now that is. I say weirdly, because I love this bands music and have enjoyed seeing them perform, many times over the years. I’ve even spoken with Ben, the bands lead singer several times when I’ve seen him at festivals and that time when he was touring with the band Scorpion Child, a few years back! I was getting well into their set tonight, so much so I didn’t even mind having water thrown over me, as I got caught in the cross fire when Ben threw water into the crowd. It’s safe to say these guys are as tight as ever and as they are currently writing and recording a new album, they’ve had plenty of time to practice together in preparation for tonight’s headline show, which was nothing short of magnificent! What an honour to see such a great set, up close and personal! The band head off to Ireland at the end of this month for three shows, so if you haven’t already, go and see these guys perform live, you will not be disappointed.

Sadly, I couldn’t attend the Sunday due to family commitments, which I’m most upset about as I missed some great performances by all accounts, courtesy of the likes of Witch Tripper, King Goat, Ten Foot Wizard, Slabdragger, Truck Fighters (a band I’m desperate to see play live) and Kadavar, who got moved to the headline slot due to My Dying Bride having to cancel their appearance and we hope everything’s ok with them and their camp! Incidentally, Kadavar are supporting Metallica at the end of the month, so I’ll be seeing them then, CAN NOT WAIT!

It also means I’ve got to write less! I hate writing these reviews, coz I’m shit at writing but it’s a stipulation for getting accreditation, so thanks for putting up with my gibberish.

By the looks of this weekends strong attendance, we can only assume this fixture will go ahead next year, so we’re looking forward to that already! What a great day, shared with some amazing people. Thank you.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)