O2 Academy Birmingham 11th February 2017.
This weekend see’s the much anticipated launch of Hard Rock Hell Metal in the city of Birmingham and what a great venture this looks set to be too. With all three venues within the O2 Academy primed and ready for action, the opportunity to catch forty bands over the forthcoming two days really does feel quite a luxury but the biggest draw for me and my main place of residence for this weekend, will be the Best of Brum stage as it will be playing host to some of the finest up and coming bands from this region and beyond.
Whoever was responsible for organising the Best Of Brum’s line up, made a very smart call in tasking Burden Of The Noose with opening up this two day event as when you need a band to make an impact, then these are the guys to do just that. For forty short minutes, the heaving Academy3 lay captive to a merciless siege from the band, which was further engrained by the psychotic gaze of Andy Barraclough. Despite having seen Burden Of The Noose command the stage on many an occasions previously, I really felt that today’s set topped the lot and what an excellent start to the day!
Bloodyard were up next and once again, this was a set that was destined to impact with a ruthless edge. The vocal prowess of Donna Hurd is such that it stops you dead in your tracks and amidst the hazy red lights and thick heavy smoke, the mood of their set was ferociously atmospheric. Bloodyard are not the kind of band to only see once and with that thought in mind, I shall be keeping eyes and ears open for news of their next gig in this area.
With the Best Of Brum stage gaining a fair amount of the early birds attention, 3pm saw Internal Conflict take to the stage in the company of a maximum capacity crowd. One of the great things about this band is their energy on stage and with front man Adam Kyle making a keen connection with the audience, this was one hell of a great set from the band.
Next up were Vicious Nature and without doubt, this is one band who know how to get the momentum charged and today’s set certainly did that! With some fans having travelled from as far a field as Belgium just to see them play live here today, there was no holding Vicious Nature back and Andy Pyke was barely containable by the O2 Academy3 stage. This was an excellent performance from Vicious Nature and a highlight of the day for many.
Jonestown’s set marked the halfway point of day one on the Best Of Brum Stage and even though the performances on stages 1 and 2 were now well underway, there was still a fair size audience waiting to see them play. Jonestown have a merciless intensity to their sound that is heartless in it’s delivery and if you like your metal bruised to perfection, then you really do need to go and check out Jonestown for sure!
In advance of today, I’d been told by several people that one of the must see bands this weekend were Anticlone, but that recommendation in itself does in no way prepare you for the reality of such an experience. Visually, their appearance takes things to a whole new level that is on par with your worst living nightmare and the brutality of their apocalyptic nu-metal also sits within that very same kind of dreamscape aswell. Anticlone are one of a kind and if the world ends as we know it, I wanna be on their side – AWESOME!
The West Midlands metal scene has a very healthy hard core bounty of bands and next up was another band of it’s local hero’s – Left For Red. Laden with a powerful and heavy metal essence, the bands set delivered a tightly welded mesh of decibel breaking favourites that had the audience raising horns and beer in the air as a mark of appreciation.
Sadly, the need for sustenance meant that I missed the set from Ballsdeep but I did make it back in time to catch The Best Of Brum’s final band of the day, Animator. Demolishing the airwaves with a bevy of frantic guitar riffs and the avid vocals of James Doughty, the set from Animator hit like a hurricane and gave us exactly the right kind of an end to day one that Hard Rock Hell Metal deserved.
Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.