Rock & Metal Circus Festival

Stoke Prior Club Bromsgrove – 22nd Sep 2013.

Thanks to Rob for Saturday’s round up, but today was my day and looking at the line up, the prospect was mouth watering. Although I’m absolutely knackered from the previous two days, with my hands, feet and back all hurting, I knew today’s bands were going to help me forget about my woe’s and just enjoy the music!

On slightly later than billed, which seemed a running occurrence but a teething problem that I’m sure they’ll figure out by next year, was the wonderful talent that is Esme and I can’t think of a more perfect beginning to a day of music. Those that managed to get out of bed were treated to an absolute spectacle of a performance, that left everyone’s jaws firmly planted to the floor. Being an acoustic artist, you only have two tools at your disposal, you’re voice and your guitar, so the artist must bring something very powerful to capture the imagination on the crowd, and something that Esme does very well as she sure did captured our emotions with her powerful vocals. Using all her own material, except for the last song, which was a Halestorm cover of “I miss the Misery” which is a powerful song, but Esme owned it and made the song her own! Expect to see Esme at a show near you soon.

Spiral Dive (from Kettering) were up next and after what seemed like an eternity of a change over, they finally got underway. These guys have a heavy guitar groove and are a charismatic bunch who put together a commendable set, considering their time got cut short. I hope to see these guys again, under better circumstances.

Schemata Theory took the stage next and having previously reviewed their album ‘Dry Lung Rhetoric’, I was curious to see how this bands music fared from recorded material to live performance. I’ll admit, I thought these guys sounded much better live and they produced one of the best performances, musically and photographically, of the day. I did feel a bigger stage would have given these guys the freedom to express themselves more though.

The Mariana Hollow, my how I’ve fallen in love with this band. After three days of photographing mostly hairy, sweaty men, it was an absolute pleasure to photograph the stunning Rebecca Spinks. Rebecca’s voice and appearance loosely resembles that of Amy Lee from Evanescence, and what a performer, so much emotion and feeling goes into every song, from her and the whole band aswell. Although their set was cut short, I managed to interview the band after their set, where I discovered, Adam (drums), tells really bad jokes.

Next on stage were Designs Of Chaos, from the South East of the country. These guys proved to be a popular hit with the crowd, bringing the majority of those catching the rays, back inside to watch their set. A true power house of a metal band, kings of the riffs with powerful vocals to boot and I really hope to catch these guys on the road again soon.

Silent Decent had also traveled a distance, all the way up from Dartford to be here today. Disappointingly, their set was also shorter than expected, but they made the most of the time they had. Falling under the genre of Trance Metal, these guys enhance their sound with the use of a keyboard, which produced almost a dubstep groove in some tracks. Over that you have some blistering guitar solo’s and vocals, courtesy of  Tom and Tom. With a massive following, that they’ve amassed since 2005, these guys are going places and this is defiantly a band worth keeping an eye on.

The half way point of my day was marked with a set from Splintered Soul, who provided yet more eye candy courtesy of pint sized Erica Mengod. She may be small, but has some pretty powerful vocals that I hadn’t anticipated and with Sally Jo on the Violin, yes, that’s right, a violin player in a metal band, this band certainly attracted a fair bit of interest. Also from the Dartford area, I’m wondering what is in the water down there, as the bands from this region are certainly pushing some great the boundaries in the metal genre!

Diaries of a Hero are classified as metal, and these guys stay true to the genre, producing a great mix of riffs, vocals which result in some really catchy tunes. With a great stage presence, Carlo is certainly a born entertainer. In fact, off stage, the band seem to love having a laugh, check out their Facebook page for their latest antics. These guys ain’t messing about all the time though, especially when it comes to their music, having supported Motorhead and Anthrax, this time last year, they can be serious and deserve your undivided attention, great band.

Today was my second encounter with Balls Deep, the craziest quartet of potters about (Stoke on Trent reference). With an emphatic stage presence, these guys rocked the show, and those that that watched them, truly witnessed something special, as for the rest, sat outside in the sunshine, you missed out big time. Saying that, the weather was great, maybe the organisers need to consider a partially covered stage next year? At one point Swampy called out to those sat outside, which made me chuckle, he was in fine leap frogging mood tonight, which is always great to see. Definitely check out their new album “A Thousand Nights”.

With Meta-Stasis next on the bill, these guys came on stage and for a minute I though we were getting Slipknot, but I was soon corrected when they started to play. These guys are mental, quite literally, mental. Falling under a truly unique genre, known to them as Extreme, Technical, Alien/Psycho Metal, the band members are as unique as their sound. Consisting of and I quote” Patient 01: Paul ‘Ripply Dipper’ McGarry : Bilateral Carpal Tunnel Stenosis, Patient 02: Dave ‘Heretic’: Tendinosis & Impulse Control, Patient 03: Benny ‘Rotten’ Green: Low Dead Pulses Department of Bass, Patient 04: Rich ‘The Head’ Grind-on: Extreme High Blood Pressure & Irregular Heart Beats, Patient 05: Solomon.J.Lucifier.Christ: Throat Disorder & Psychiatric S-scapes, decipher that, I dare you!  All I can tell you is the keyboard player wears a V (Guy Fawkes) mask, and appears to be the bands mascot. The lead vocalist can belt out some mind blowing vocals, with the rest of the band producing an absolutely mind blowing performance. These guys have a massive following, and from their live performance tonight, I can see why.

Lifer gave us a performance tonight that was nothing short of perfect, as ever, an absolute pleasure to watch live and I’m still playing their latest album in the car! Catching up with them later off stage, they seemed a little more subdued compared to previous encounters, the long drive from Wales must have been hell. However fresh from their appearance at Bloodstock 2013, I asked how it went, which bought it all back and got them elevated again.

Reign of Fury, are band I’ve read a lot about, but this was my first time catching them live and I assure you, it wont be the last. Bison, lead vocals, isn’t what you’d expect, with his thick, dark framed spectacles, on stage he’s like a mad scientist. Jon, lead guitars baffled the hell out of me, playing his ESP Explorer left handed, and when trying to take pics, I couldn’t quite figure out why my angles were all wrong, then it hit me, with a thud from the kick drum, thanks Dave! These guys also have a huge following, thanks to their classic 80’s (Iron Maiden) sound.

The last performance of the day for me were Skreamer, who were the life and soul of the party, always having the last man standing. These guys were so instrumental a few weeks prior in the antics at Beermageddon, that the organisers named a whole section of the campsite after them! This weekend, they weren’t messing about either, as they’d bought with them an entire entourage of loyal Skreamers, to cheer them on. Being one of the few bands that arrived at the start of the weekend and watched every act before them, I have to give them a massive round of applause for that, but they must have been itching to get up on that stage, to perform their own set and now that time had come. I’ve been looking forward to this for months, as I’ve heard and seen so many good things about the band and I was excited for them! With one of the few bands to pull in the entire audience at RMC, these guys blew my socks off from start to finish. Their stage presence was incredible, and they managed to lift everyone’s spirits, yet again, which must have been difficult, as we were all pretty knackered by then, but they did it, with their pure powerhouse of riffs! Skreamer are another band you have to look out for, trust me, these guys are going to be big, their current following of 25,000 fans on Facebook is an understatement to what these guys are set to achieve!

I must apologies to the remaining three bands of the day, Wretched Soul, Enemo-J and Collapse as I had to leave early, but I’ll look forward to the day we do actually meet.

All in all, a fantastic weekend was had, yes, it was hard work, but no pain, no gain and with this being the Rock & Metal circus’s maiden voyage, my god, this festival was incredible and I look forward to climbing aboard again in 2014.  I’d like to extend a massive thank you for inviting down to Stoke Prior to partake in this event. Peace!

Words and photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)