HRH Doom vs Stoner

O2 Academy Sheffield 29th September 2019.

Well sadly, all good things must come to an end and I guess that’s true as this is the final Doom v Stoner event that HRH are putting on. It would appear that they’ve exhausted this genre and can no longer fill it with worthy bands that no ones already seen before – like Orange Goblin, who’ve headlined three out of the four events. That said, I still managed to discover some new bands today! All is not lost as it’s being replaced with Goth, which joins the ever popular Punk and Viking events to keep us entertained.

As this is the last one, I’m going to keep this short and to the point and mostly talk about the bands that blew me away on the day.

Alunah were up first and after re-discovering this lot at Uprising earlier this month, I was super excited about getting to see this band play again, on the main stage that the O2 Academy has. Although they were up first, there was a respectable crowd in attendance which was re-assuring as others had clearly made the effort to see Alunah perform. What I didn’t realise was that they only performed tracks off the current EP and the new album, although I can be forgiven for this as up until this point, I hadn’t heard the new album! Thankfully, the band have kindly given me a promo copy to listen to and trust me, it’s everything I hoped it would be! I have vowed to purchase a copy of the new album on vinyl, the splatter one hopefully so save me one for the pending tour at the end of the year, or in early 2020 please! Sure, the band are considered a doom band but this album is anything but! After getting the chance to interview the band, which you can watch here. I know they’ve purposely tried to have more fun with their latest offering, entitled ‘Violet Hour’, opting for a more bluesy tempo compared to their older material. Their gamble has paid off in my book as like the band we see before us now, it’s a new start, with new music, that’s forging a future which looks bright and promising. I’m expecting this album to catapult this band into the uppermost stratosphere, I just hope there’s still venues and events they can play at as everyone needs to check this band out!

Red Spektor followed on the main stage, with a nice long one hour set that gave them plenty of time to perform an array of music from both their back catalogue and from their yet to be released new album. It was a set we could properly immerse and lose ourselves in and transport us to a hedonistic and psychedelic world that very few bands can successfully transport us to so well! No details are available on the release of their new album but we did talk at length about it’s pending release, so if you’re a fan like we are, then check out our interview.

You could consider the first two acts as both blues/doom and psychedelic/stoner, Oak however, were full on hard hitting stoner and really woke everyone back up with their high energy, hard hitting riff machine! Their bio states they tried to sound like Kyuss, but fucked it up, that’s funny, but not nearly as funny as seeing vocalist Andy with his shirt off! Still, you could tell he couldn’t care less what I or anyone else thinks of that as he was too busy loving every minute of his time up on the main stage! I really like this band from London – Desertfest, get on these guys!

Ten Ton Slug, thankfully made the long trip over the Irish sea to entertain us today and were next up on the main stage. These guys followed on well after Oak, as they too were very energetic with some killer sludge fuelled riffs but unlike Oak, everyone’s heard of these guys which was helped largely by their triumphant performance on the Sophie Stage at Bloodstock this year! Yeah, these guys are right up there on the fucking rocks list, check um out!

Remember I said I’m still discovering bands, well Dead Witches are one such band. I’m both thankful I now have these in my life and can include their latest album ‘The Final Exorcism’ within my listening pleasure but I’m also miffed it’s taken me this long to discover them! I’ve no idea how long they’ve been around as the bands bio doesn’t tell me, although it’s not that important. I did however discover this band are also signed to the same record label ‘Heavy Psych Sounds’ as Alunah and many of the other great acts I love, so that’s exciting! Horror doom, is the genre they go by or music to dig graves to, that said, by the time their set was up, the O2 Academy literally looked like a grave yard, complete with dead bodies as everyone in attendance moshed themselves to death! I absolutely loved this band, their sound, their persona’s, as did my camera as they are very photogenic, well Soozi, their lead vocalist was as the other three were hidden in a cloud of smoke! Soozi is a born entertainer and I couldn’t help myself being hypnotised by her dance moves and her voice!

Our headliners for today and closing the final HRH Doom V Stoner was non other than Monolord, who, in my opinion, have written the best doom track EVER, entitled ‘Empress Rising’ which they played as their final song and was a fitting tribute to this genre! Although I’ve managed to catch these guys before at Desertfest back in 2016, when they opened the Sunday at KOKO, its great to see them three years on and this time headlining! Despite this being my second experience of Monolord, I do wish it was more but as they’re from Gothenburg, Sweden, they don’t venture this way too often – that needs to change, tour the UK more please guys, love you!

I’m now undecided as to what HRH events I’d like to cover in the future for music224, I’m liking the look of Vikings, which happens at the end of November and I’d love to cover HRH Metal again, early 2020 as that’s always a great event. HRH Punk also looks good too, although I’m not a punk fan but I do appreciate many of the acts that grace that genre. HRH Goths would also be a great event to attend but from a photographers perspective, stage lighting often associated with this genre can prove challenging as red light tends to be a popular choice – less smoke would be great too, although a little smoke does help to allow the colours to bleed together. Anyway, I’m rambling now but the point I’m trying to make is that HRH continue to provide some quality events throughout the year and keep our appetites for live music, wet!

Until next time, be good and look out for each other!

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)