Category Archives: Festival reviews

Uprising 2019

The night before Uprising – Firebug, Friday 13th September 2019.

Now that we’ve had a little time to recover, we’ve also had time to evaluate the events of the past weekend and reflect upon all the positive energy we’re feeling after attending such a great event – well worth £25 of anyone’s money, we’ll say that from the start!

Uprising is now in it’s fourth year and is the brainchild of one Simon Yarwood, a late bloomer, when it comes to music but with his years, comes maturity and a willingness to put on a great event, that both bands want to play as a musician and also attend as a punter! He’s also in a pretty good band himself called Resin, who’ve graced many of the great metal events that the UK has to offer, so he’s seen both sides of the industry, giving him a unique perspective on how he sees an event such as Uprising, should be perceived?

Uprising Festival now takes place over three days in September, which is also a new date in the diary! A great time of year to hold a festival, as it’s still not quite winter, still relatively warm but it is a safe bet to hold it indoors as we live in the UK, so better to be safe, than wet!

Both the Friday ‘The Night Before’ and Sunday’s ‘Aftermath’ took place at Firebug which is Simon’s regular haunt and go to venue when putting on other Resin shows which are held throughout the year. The main event this year, took place at The O2, where as in previous years, it’s been just up the road at De Montford Hall, which is a spectacular venue but if we’re being completely honest, doesn’t fit Uprising’s image and we personally preferred the O2 Academy which was much better suited to host a metal event such as Uprising. It was familiar territory for us and we felt much more at home there, so long may it continue!

Having been mostly out of the game, personally, this year, for various reasons, tonight was a great way to ease my way into the swing of things, whilst meeting up with friends, mostly from the media world, who I’ve not seen for a while. It also allowed me to introduce a good friend into the media side of festival life, who I’ve managed to brainwash into attending festivals with me, who goes by the name of Masaaki Black. I dare say he’ll feature more, now he’s been bitten by the bug just like me and yes, it’s all my fault. I’ll apologies to his Fiancee now, as she may lose him to this world of media, photography and live music!

It’s been several years since I last attended Firebug. I was reminded of the last time, in fact, which was for Beholder’s final album launch. Back then, I remember the venue was a challenge lighting wise, so I wasn’t surprised to see just one white light beaming on to the stage – here we go, I thought but much to my surprise, when Mad Spanner, our first band of the night, took to the stage, it was lit up like the fourth of July, which pleased me greatly! The Firebug has always been regarded as a great music venue for it’s intimate atmosphere and great sound, so to see a lighting show equal to the other great aspects of this venue, in our opinion, makes the Firebug a ‘go to’ venue for any a touring band.

So, on to tonight’s bands and Mad Spanner, who pretty much do what it says on the tin! Mad, fun and metal, and the perfect band to kick off proceedings, we thinks! Hailing from Aberystwyth/Shrewsbury, they clearly don’t like to take life too seriously, which is the way we like it aswell. However, in amongst all the tom-foolery, there are three very talented musicians who do take their music seriously, which is even better for us! Thrash, punk, comedic metal, what’s not to love!

Next up, Mörti Viventi, who are a band we can relate with, both on and off the stage. Life’s a struggle but you carry on doing what you love, because it makes you feel good and that just so happens to be thrash metal. Having seen the music being played at several festivals, this year and last, the best bands we encountered all played thrash, so it’s no surprise to see that Uprisings line up was weighted heavily with bands of this genre, which is a wise and popular choice at present! Metal genres and trends alter, like any other aspect of life but Thrash will always be one of our five a day and these guys, from sleepy Stamford in Lincolnshire, are going to be a part of our staple diet for the foreseeable future! They are a confident band, who deliver with pure confidence and undeniable conviction!

As it was Friday the 13th, we thought it only appropriate to see a band of that name appear on the bill tonight but having not encountered them before, we didn’t know what to expect. As the band rattled through their set, it became apparent very quickly that Thirteen (13) know what they’re doing, especially guitarist James, who’s playing style is on a whole other level, we’d go as far as to say similar to that of Michael Schenker and even though it was effortless to watch, the technical sounds and abilities we witnessed were phenomenal. It was like watching UFO back in their hey day! As I looked around the room the admiration for this band was clear to see on the faces of those present! I also noticed the bands lead singer and bassist, James, was sporting a tattoo of B.O.A’s famous brand logo on his left arm, with the words ‘M.T.TM’s finalist 2018’ below it! It just goes to show what winning that particular event means to the bands that enter it, let alone win it. It’s a great event that the organiser of that festival should be very proud of!

As the night drew to a close, the honour of closing Uprising’s first day was given to Ward XVI, a band we’ve known of for sometime but were yet to see play live, so we were looking forward to this, a lot!
Although we’re not completely au fait with the ‘Theatrical Avant-Garde Rock’ genre, we could hazard a guess at what we were about to experience, courtesy of some of the props that lay before us. Imagine watching four escaped psychopaths from a lunatic asylum playing instruments, whilst chopping up bodies, with a metal sound-track and you’ve got this band, all wrapped up! OK, they’re not quite that easy to sum up and feel we need to see this band several times more, to fully appreciate what they’re doing throughout their set but we hope to see them again, very soon! Lead vocalist ‘Psychoberrie’ is the perfect front-woman for the job. She’s energetic, vocally talented and knows how to rip a corpse apart after disemboweling it – it wasn’t a real body, I hasten to add! Parts of the set, reminded us of an Alice Cooper show, which is great, yet Ward XVI are completely unique and completely original, so maximum kudos for that, as that’s no easy task these days!

Roll on Day 2

To see more photographs from the day, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Beermageddon

Stoke Prior Sports & Country Club Stoke Prior 25th August 2019.

August Bank Holiday is always a special time of year for us, as it means we get to make our way to Bromsgrove, for our annual pilgrimage to Beermageddon! Now in it’s eighth year and true to form, it sold out – again!

Sure it’s one of the smaller festivals on the circuit but that doesn’t mean it’s of any less quality! In fact, it’s one of the cleanest, friendliest and safest festivals we’ve ever attended and every year it gets better! It’s like having 500 of your best friends and family camping in a field, consuming your own body weight in alcohol, whilst watching the very best talent that metal has to offer, hand picked by the man himself, Mr Jim Beerman! It’s for this very reason, after watching all the kids running around this year, that I too will bring my own son along to a Beermageddon in the not too distant future, which will be his first ever. Sure, I’ve seen younger kids than he’ll be, but I’m not that brave! This means I’ll get to experience it as a punter for once and enjoy the weekend with him. I may sneak the camera in though, as I won’t be able to stop myself from jumping in the pit for a few cheeky shots, as it’s what I love to do!

For many reasons, this year was a special year as it may never have happened at all, had it not been for the courageous souls in the NHS, saving young Jim Beerman’s life! As many of you know, Jim had a heart attack, the full details I’m not aware of but seeing him make a full recovery and be fit and healthy again in time for this years Beermageddon, was a sight to behold and, if I’m totally honest, a miracle, as so many don’t ever recover fully, let alone live to tell the tale! It’s for this reason and quite rightly so, Jim got a little emotional during the half way point when they held their silent auction to raise money for various charities, one being the hospital ward that helped to save Jim’s life.

Most years, we’ve attended the Saturday, which means we get to buy our official T-shirt but this year, we missed out as we attended the Sunday and they’d sold out, so the collection is now missing two out of the eight, which is annoying. To prevent disappointment next year, we’ve pre-ordered out T-shirt to avoid further disappointment, however, all was not lost, as we got to be a part of the annual group photo, which is our first, yay!

Now onto the days bands, which were far more spread out than with previous years and was great as it’s almost become secondary for us and is merely the icing on the cake when attending Beermageddon, as we love to wander around and talk to everyone we know as much as possible! It was also a welcome respite from the heat, as this year was the hottest Bank Holiday on record! It was hotter inside the venue than out, which says a lot when it was 30 degrees plus outside!

Hands of Attrition were up first and what a way to start! These five West Midlanders fuse groove metal with doom, which is a recipe that our taste buds approve of greatly! They executed their set like seasoned pro’s, so imagine our amazement when we discovered that this was their first ever gig! Jim clearly saw something in these guys which paid off, as they turned out one of the best sets of the day for us!

Voidlurker, are a 3 piece doom band from Birmingham – the home of metal, so we were expecting good things from these guys! We’re big fans of this genre, so every dropped note was welcomed with open arms! They started strong and ended stronger, with little deviation in the middle. A little more variety in their sound would have improved their set in our opinion, but then that would be out of character of the doom genre, so is purely a matter of taste!

Frozen In Shadows were on everyone’s to-do-list today, as they are what you might call a super group and features members/ex-members of Footprints in the Custard, Prognosis, Impavidus, Vice and Godhand! Everyone in the scene knows of Russ, courtesy of his time in Footprints and we’re also aware of his sense of humour, so it was no surprise to hear Elsa belting out ‘Let it go’ as the band took to the stage, only to end in a car crash…. a sign of things to come? Certainly not, their take on the melodic death metal was nothing short of exceptional, perfectly executed with a side helping of humour! Not sure what the significance of the painted cat whiskers was, but hey, nothing surprises us anymore!

Atorc are a band we know of, having seen them at this years HRH metal. I use the word ‘seen’ loosely, as there was so much smoke we couldn’t quite make out who was what! The band deliver battle hardened folk metal which wouldn’t be out of place on the set of Vikings! This genre is ever increasing and is a firm favourite amongst metal heads, as are these guys, as they’ve amassed a huge following of both music lovers and musicians alike! My favourite aspect from this set was the violinist, as it’s now become fashionable to have one in your band! A trend that’s increased in popularity, thanks to the triumphant performance the band Resin have conducted recently! I for one am not complaining, as it’s an instrument that sounds divine!

Kill All The Gentlemen (please don’t) are a well established metal band, from Exeter. Signed to Sliptrick Records, they’ve acquired several accolades and having researched this band after the fact, the most notable being the winners of Hobgoblin’s Online Video Competition which earned them the right to play B.O.A, back in 2014! Although not a band we’ve come across before, we were eager to see how they fared! After a nervous start, they soon found their groove, which they delivered with intensity and prowess and the crowd lapped these guys up in abundance!

Foetal Juice, as disgusting as the name sounds, is one which is a very unique name, especially when putting this bands name into google – as we did and were inundated with links to this bands social content! It all makes sense, when they start playing though, as they’re a death metal band!

Question, did anyone else see the resemblance between Ben, the bands guitarist and Troy of Mastodon, yeah, us too! We even had our Mastodon T-shirt on the day as well! Bizarre!

After a slow start, due to technical issues, once up and running, these guys put the pedal to the metal and powered through an impressive set at 100mph, in true death metal style! I wouldn’t mess with the bands vocalist, Dez either, what a monster of a man! His vocals were exceptional and on point!

Necronautical – we like band names like this, as it conjures up images within our imagination, before we’ve even seen the band! Necronaut is a term derived from the Greek words Nekros, meaning “corpse” or “Dead”, and nautes, meaning “sailor”…. a person who experiments with near death experiences in order to explore the underworld! Let’s face it, this basically sums these guys up, to a T! They were the only band to actually embellish the use of corpse paint as well, which was good! We like corpse paint!

As expected, Jim had again managed to secure the most brutal of headliners possible and worthy of closing this years festival, in ear blistering style!

As the night drew to a close on an excellent days entertainment, the lasting sounds left ringing in the ears was Beer, Beer, Beermageddon! Seriously, how many festival do you know who have their own theme tune! In Beerman, we Trust! Until next year…be good to each other, look after one another and stay metal. Peace!

To see more photographs from the day, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

HRH Metal 2019

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 17th February 2019.

With the momentum from yesterday still riding high and fueling the enthusiasm for day 2, 1pm sharp saw me back over at HRH Metals Stage 3 to catch our opening Sunday band, Seven Hells. And if there was anyone still semi-conscious from the previous day, then they couldn’t possibly have stayed that way for long as Seven Hells brought down a reign of metal which was utterly immense in stature and performed with undeniable skill. This guys are certainly leaving some big footprints across the up and coming music scene and today’s set was a brilliant example of Seven Hells doing exactly that.

My next must see band on Stage 3 were Awake by Design, whose long standing presence has provided many a fan with a great live music experience and songs that stay with you long after the last note is played. The thing that I have always admired about this band, is their ability to deliver this huge melodic metal sound that just seems to thrive upon their attention to musical detail and the tireless energy that front man, Adrian Powell seems to posses never fails to breathe life into an audience. Today’s set delivered the great hope that we will be seeing more of this band in 2019 and with some new music rising up on the horizon aswell, Awake By Design look primed for a very productive year indeed.

My next pit stop was to be over on stage 1, where Fury were going down a storm – but then don’t they always! When you combine great metal with big personalities and add in a sprinkle of Va Va Voom, the outcome is something that you have to be part of and the proof of that could be heard loud and clear from the impressive size audience present. My only regret was not catching today’s set in full but I’m sure they’ll be plenty more opportunities to catch the band again live as Fury were simply born to perform.

With time marching on and stages 1 and 2 now in full swing, time became more pressing but one band that I was desperate to see today were Netherhall. Today’s set from the band marked two big occasions for the band – 1. their first time appearance at HRH Metal and 2. after having been lead vocaless for quite some time, tonight’s set would provide the debut performance of Matthew Preston in this prominent role. The progressive metal power in the music of Netherhall, always seems to capture the attention of those experiencing its presence and Matthew clearly seemed to be under that same spell too, as both vocals and music gelled superbly together.

Stage 2 was the next stop off point for me to catch local hero’s Left For Red. With their set already in full flight, it was a bit of a battle to get to the pit and one thing for sure, the HRH Metal army knows a great band when they see one. Up on stage the momentum, riffs and vibrant metal groove was running at full steam and clearly the band were enjoying performing as much as we were enjoying watching them. HRH Metal is a great ambassador for supporting the talent of up and coming bands such as Left For Red, so here’s hoping we get to see them back again for next years event – over on Stage 1.

You know when everyone who’s seen a certain band tells you how brilliant they are and every review you’ve read about them seems to hold the same opinion? Well for me, tonight was my first chance to catch THAT band live – Witch Tripper! Hailing from the Nottingham area, this hard working trio are known to never let any dust settle on one of their performances and the set they delivered over on Stage 1 was everything and more I’d hoped it would be. With endless energy, sweat and raging riffs by the bucket load, Witch Tripper certainly owned that stage and boy, did that audience love them too. Band of the day for me and an experience I can’t wait to repeat.

The remainder of my day was spent on a whistle stop tour trying to photograph as many bands as possible across all three stages – a busy day for sure but today’s line up really was quite something, as was the support and hard working endeavors of all those behind the scenes who make events like HRH Metal happen.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.