Hils Ovation

Hils Ovation 7th June 2013

Diamond Lil/ Fury/ Vandaliers/ Dead Star Coalition

and At The Mercy.

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 7th June 2013.

June is once again upon us and the mighty internet is heaving with all the talk and anticipation of the impending summer festivals. With the weather being what I would class as a poor excuse for this time of year and having a longstanding emotional allergy to tents, a night at The Slade Rooms complete with weather proof roof over my head, is looking to pretty much be my idea of heaven!

With doors opening at 7pm and five bands on tonight’s line up, time was prime and first band on stage were At The Mercy. This four piece band, originate from round and about the Cannock area and have been hitting the metal since early 2012. Looking back through their history, they’ve weathered a line up change aswell as one or two other set backs, but from where I stood tonight, these guys seemed ready to make that next step forward happen.

Bryn Sharratt - At The Mercy

Tonight’s set contained a mixture of covers along with their own original material, and choosing to bring their set to a close with the epic Metallica anthem ‘Enter Sandman’, was a great call. It’s always a pleasure to see a band starting to make their way and I look forward to the next chapter from At The Mercy.

Mitch Halden - At The Mercy

With no time wasted and a quick change over on stage, our second band up tonight were Dead Star Coalition. A new band experience for me, but a name that I’ve heard on at least one or two occasions, and given that the comment’s were all good, seeing them play tonight was certainly an interesting proposition.

Jim Witts - Dead Star Coalition

Dead Star Coalition were nothing less than great metal in motion, and packed out a sound that was both brutal and bloodthirsty in it’s delivery. Having said that, this band aren’t afraid of showing their softer side and there was one song towards the end of their set, which stood out for that reason and also for the fact that it remained equally as powerful as their harder material. Dead Star Coalition easily met my expectation and are certainly a band to look out for.

Phil Hingerty - Dead Star Coalition

Having now reached the halfway point of this evening’s intriguing shenanigans, Vandaliers took to the stage and introduced us to a slight change in this evenings musical direction. This five piece classic rocksome, have been on the West Mids music scene for a couple of years and as far as looking and sounding like a band that fits well together, these guys certainly have mastered that characteristic.

Danny Jenks - VandalierS

Not as big an audience for Vandaliers tonight as that which these guys deserve but it needs to be said that this in no way reflects upon the set that these guys delivered. With music steeped in a swell of bassy blues lines, the progressive headiness of classic rock guitar riffs and the sheer vocal disposition of the iconic 70’s, Vandaliers couldn’t really fail to capture my attention and interest. Top performance from these guy’s tonight and I hope that we’ll be seeing and hearing more from this band in the month’s to come.

Jackie Boy Sargeant - VandalierS

I’m beginning to loose count of the number of times I’ve seen our next band Fury, and with each past performance of theirs that I’ve witnessed, my like and respect for them all as both serious musicians and general all round good guys, has never failed to grow. Having made their way up from Worcester to Wolverhampton along with a small army of fusiliers, there was no shortage of Fury T Shirts to be seen in the audience and it was also pretty cool to see that some of those T Shirt wearers were of an age where they had already gone way past their bedtime!

Martin Trail - Fury

Tonight’s set list contained six songs of magnificent Fury metal but with a twist of something different at its tail. Of all the unlikely songs I’ve heard covered by bands in years gone by, Fury’s version of the infamous sea shanty ‘Drunken Sailor’ absolutely earned itself first prize in the ‘Never Saw That One Coming’ awards! Words fail me in describing how great and infectious their performance of that song was and even now when I’m sat here days later, I’m still chuckling away to myself just thinking about it. Bloodstock beckons Fury this August and if tonight was anything to go by, Derbyshire is in for a proper treat!

Julian Jenkins - Fury

With our headlining act Diamond Lil still to come, and them also being faced with the unenviable task of picking up the musical baton after what The Slade Rooms had just experienced, the change over time between these bands seemed to take a lifetime. Finally, front man Ellis Wilde took to the stage and with microphone in one hand and resolute determination in the other, Diamond Lil were unleashed with relentless velocity.

Ellis Wilde and Jamie Downes - Diamond Lil

Tonight’s set can only be described as victorious in many ways, as not only did it include several Diamond Lil essential’s including ‘Misfits Of Society’ and ‘Reach’ but we were also introduced to not one, but two new songs, which I believe to be titled ‘Mind Over Matter’ and ‘Seen It All’. Diamond Lil clearly loved being up on stage tonight, as did their audience appreciate them being there and the cheers and applause that came at the end of the set, made it quite clear to the band that there was no way they were leaving the building without an encore.

Harry Colley - Diamond Lil

Well, I certainly enjoyed my little slice of summer tonight and having experienced such a great combination of performances, I’m heading home tonight a very happy gal indeed. Bring on the next gig and another helping of rock ‘n’roll sunshine!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.

The Mercy House

With Support From One More Victim and Whispering Vault.

The Hairy Dog Derby 3rd June 2013.

Three bands tonight, at the Hairy Dog, in Derby and I’ll stick my neck on the line and say this venue is the best live music venue Derby has to offer. The bands play upstairs in a large room that is capable of holding 2/300 spectators. The stage area, where the bands perform isn’t massive, but it is raised and now has a protective barrier to stop crazy spectators taking running jumps (which I’ve witnessed before). The PA system is incredible and very powerful. During my interview with The Mercy House, I could still hear the bands playing halfway down the street!! The lighting system is pretty impressive to, a dream for all us photographers, although the red light of doom featured quite a lot tonight, but I got through it, what a trooper!

FIrst up waere the St. Helens based band, One More Victim and this four piece thrash metal band comprises of Richie Scott – Rhythm guitar and vocals, Nick Doran – drums, Andy Dyas – lead guitar and Mat Lowe on da bass.

Andy Dyas - One More Victim

These guys are your typical classic thrash metal band, with some killa riffs, ear blistering vocals and balls to the floor metal and a healthy following, and following tonight’s set, I can now see why. If you’re looking to de-stress from a shit week at work, these guys sure as hell get you moving, as they themselves are mental on stage. What was also great to see, their lead vocalist Richie stuck around to watch the other bands before making the long journey home. Good work guys and I look forward to seeing you again.

Richie Scott - One More Victim

Next up was local Derbyshire based band, Whispering Vault. Don’t let the bands name fool you as these guys are far from quite. Consisting of Simon Bowler – Vocals, Mike Ellis – battering the drums, Mick Allen – Guitar, Mark Faxon – Guitar and by no means least, Tak Takumi Sekiguchi Sloan on bass, who people might also know through his involvement at The Music Shed, Derby’s premier practicing studios.

Tak Sekiguchi Sloan - Whispering Vault

Tonights vocals were an awesome display of power courtesy of Simon, and backed up with some pretty excellent drumming and brutal guitar playing. These guys are your conventional UK black metal band and I really enjoyed their set from start to finish, although I did start to feel every track sounded the same. That comment isn’t meant to suggest that this band weren’t good, far from it because they are,  but like someone said in conversation, having seen 300 bands this year all doing the same thing, it’s nice to get a little variation within a set.  That doesn’t mean to say you stop what you enjoy doing, it just means bands could experiment a little more.

Mike Allen - Whispering Vault

Which leads me on nicely to our main event, The Mercy House. These guys, five in total, made the long journey up from London to play their debut show in Derby. Consisting of Drew – vocals, Dany – rhythm guitar, Dan – lead guitar, W.R – Bass and Nick on Drums.

Dany Serrano - The Mercy House

The Mercy House came onto my radar when they played with the mighty Fortress in Worcester back on May the 4th (be with you). Naturally I checked out these guys and discovered I liked their sound and a few emails to The Noise Cartel later, here I am. What initially grabbed my attention, were the similarities between vocalist Drew and Layne Stayley from Alice in Chains. I would also say The Mercy House have that whole, seattle based grunge and grinding hard rock feel from the early 90’s going on too, which bands like AiC have made famous. Refreshingly, there ain’t many bands about these days doing this genre so it’s no wonder the likes of Planet Rock and Metal Hammer have picked up on this and decided to re-release their first album. However, when “A Broken State of Bliss” was first released, it did still manage to secure the band a healthy fan base.

Drew Davies - The Mercy House

Tonights set was incredible. Although not full on thrash, these guys sure know how to rock and from start to finish, The Mercy House showed us no mercy, whilst head banged in unison throughout their own set. The band played with much power and aggression and a clear political motivation was to be heard in both their personal views and lyrical content.  This didn’t deter them, or me for that matter from enjoying the music, as when you see a band of such animated and energetic characters, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself and I’m sure everyone present tonight would agree.

Nick Schlesinger - The Mercy House

Definitely check out their current album, as I’ve previously mentioned and I look forward to the new album which is due to be released either later this year or early 2014.

I managed to interview two members of The Mercy House, Dany and Nick and you can listen to that interview here https://soundcloud.com/jj_fubar/the-mercy-house-interview, which I personally found insightful, with some great honesty.

Words and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Metal Gods Festival Day 2

26th May 2013 at The Intake Club Mansfield

Day 2 kicked off in spectacular fashion, with Gypsy Heart, another young three-piece band from Lincolnshire. These guys had so much energy, I struggled to capture any pictures of the Bass player, Anthony Trueman. The one shot I did get is a complete blur, being young meant their energy didn’t deteriorate either, so I had no chance. definitely check these guys out, if you can.

3 Second Fuse are 4 friendly giants from Matlock, who’s heavy southern/rock sound sound came at you with a fairly subdued attitude and worked well with the bands that played before them. The bass player however couldn’t stand still for 5 seconds, which isn’t fun to try and photograph. These guys sounded really good, check them out.

Jordan Arkell - 3 Second Fuse

The next band that really caught my attention was, Defy All Reason, who were awesome! I also managed to interview these guys, so be sure to check that out too. This 4 piece band from Wrexham are starting to get quite a bit of media attention, after todays performance, I can see why! These guys are not so much thrash, but another heavy/southern rock sound thats becoming increasingly popular, with their own original spin on it.

Gavin Lee Jones - Defy All Reason

Arceye were very good today, as were Disarm Goliath, who, in my opinion are Iron Maiden’s clone. Front man Steve Bell’s vocals were also very impressive, the man can hold a scream, thats for sure!

Steve Bell - Disarm Goliath

Next up, Black Acid Souls, another band I saw first at Hammerfest V, today however I managed to interview the guys. This interview, although late so sorry for that, was one of my more sensible interviews, until lead/rhythm guitarist Tweak farted hahaha. Todays set was everything and more from that first show. It was so good, I lost all bodily function and started head banging along with the others. A very touching moment was when the guys all sat down part way through a song they dedicated to the Woolwich solider, who was brutally murdered in the street the week before.

Black Acid Souls

The set was nothing less than extraordinary, with their antics and face pulling at full strength and I honestly can’t recommend this band enough. These guys are well worth of a head line slot at any festival but with it being Savage Messiah who had the honour today of bringing this festival to a close, Black Acid Souls certainly got us all in the mood for more.

Gruff - Black Acid Souls

From London, Savage Messiah have been working their socks off in the underground scene for years, only now, it seems their popularity is reaching the level these guys quite rightly deserve. I put this down to the band finally getting 4 like minded individuals who are committed to the cause, that being Savage Messiah. Make sure you check out the interview, both Callum Wood and myself did with these guys as it was a lot of fun and insightful, with some funny moments too. With the aroma of burgers present, it reminded us all of our first interview, conducted in Burger King, this is a tradition i’d like to continue, as its quite funny.

Joff Bailey - Savage Messiah

If Black Acid Souls hadn’t destroyed the neck muscles, then Savage Messiah surely finished me off. I have to say, the whole band are awesome musicians, but the 2 lead guitarists Joff and Dave, with their 2 pronged assault, their weapons of choice being Schecter Guitars is a joy to watch. Each takes it in turns to switch between rhythm and lead to give us a master class in shredding, they truly are great guitarists! Savage Messiah have just announced new tour dates with my good friends (I hope) RSJ in October, but if your not going to Download this year, they are playing the Garage in London on the 14th of June.

Andrea Gorio - Savage Messiah

My conclusion of Metal Gods Festival would be thus. The quality of line up these guys put on the bill every year is awesome, this is the true warm up show for Download, with Metal Gods tickets being 90% less than that for a Download ticket. Every band I saw over the 2 days are worthy of gracing any stage and Download, sorry for not mentioning everyone. You’d be a fool to miss Metal Gods Festival in 2014!

Words and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

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