Tag Archives: ashen crown

Metal 2 The Masses

The Grand Final
KK’s Steel Mill Wolverhampton 1st June 2019.

Today is set to be one to remember, with six heats and three Semi-finals done and dusted in this years Wolverhampton Metal 2 The Masses, the Grand Final is now upon us. With a slot on the New Blood stage at Bloodstock calling out to our winner, the anticipation was electric and our six finalist were ready to give it their all.

With Rustlung having drawn the first slot of the day, they quickly set about making their thirty minutes count. The atmosphere on stage was all consuming – as was their blend of stoner/groove metal and clearly the band were intent on proving that they had exactly what it takes to be worthy contenders for today’s much sought after prize, to perform at Bloodstock.

The next band to take to the stage were The Black Hounds and as always, hard rock/metal played at its very best was their ultimate goal for today. With audience numbers growing, the band captured and held their attention fast, leaving no one in any doubt that today we would be witnessing Wolverhampton’s Metal 2 The Masses finalists, reach a standard of performance to be proud of.

Our third band of the day were Eyes Of The Raven and anyone whose seen these guys play live before, will know that they live stoner/groove metal large and always pack an honest and heartfelt punch with every song they play. Highlight of their set for me was ‘Crown Of Serpents’ which in my book, is pure and absolute mastery!

With the first three of our six finalist having given their all, the midway point of today’s event was reached and it was time for our first guest band of the day. Ashen Crown are a shining example of West Midlands metal and their rocket fuelled rise within this community has already led them to perform on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock in 2017. To describe their set today as brutal, ruthless and relentless is an understatement – a first class performance from a first class band.

Atarka were next to perform at today’s event and I can’t help but admire this band for their volcanic intensity, which is further incited by the towering stature of lead singer, Jamie Smith. With the audience rising to meet Atarka’s call to arms, the mosh pit responded and clearly, this was going to be one performance from today, that was favored by many.

Having attended all heats and semi-finals, there is one band who have repeatedly exceeded themselves, and that band is Blood Church. The theatrics of this band knows no boundaries and today, their satanic brimstone, metal and fire was more scorching that ever. This band have to be seen and heard – and truly, they are a mind blowing experience never to be forgotten. Today saw them take both stage presentation and metal to yet another new level with bible tearing, blood and two pigs heads giving rise to some very sharp intakes of breath from me! Epic!!

Elyrean have been a big hit with fans throughout the entirety of Wolverhampton’s Metal 2 The Masses and it has been an absolute pleasure to see them rise to meet high expectations head on. With each and every performance they’ve given, the impeccable standard of musicianship that this band possesses has been a sheer pleasure to witness and today’s Final saw them embrace the moment and completely captivate their audience of many!

Today’s Final has been an incredible event but with our second guest band of the day still to play, it was definitely far from over. Evil Scarecrow are absolute icons within the metal community – and beyond it for that matter and today’s set was certainly larger than life! With their stage props built to satisfy the most bizarre of imaginations, their music to feast on and lots of hilarity on stage and off, today’s Wolverhampton’s Metal 2 The Masses performances ended on a high, in true Scarecrow style.

And with all bands having played and performed like their very souls depended on it, we waited with baited breath for the announcement of the day. I really didn’t envy Simon Hall his job as judge today, as this was definitely going to be a difficult call! But the moment came and the announcement made and Wolverhampton’s winners of a slot playing on Bloodstcks New Blood Stage went to Elyrean and to say they were overjoyed is most definitely an understatement! But the good news didn’t end there as Eyes Of The Raven received the suprise selection of a slot on the Jagermeister Stage AND one band (who weren’t named) picked as a reserve should an available slot arise – now that is a result!!

On a personal note, it has been an absolute pleasure to have been part of this great event and my heartfelt gratitude goes out to Matt Edwards for keeping those big wheels turning, the sound guys for their brilliant skills on the sound desk, all photographers and reviewers, KK’s Steel Mill for their hard work and never ending commitment to this great event, Simon Hall and of course, everyone who has supported the bands and this event along the way. And there we have it folks – my feet ache but the heart is very happy, Wolverhampton Metal 2 The Masses 2020 can’t come soon enough!!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Amplified Festival 2018

Quarrydowns Gloucestershire – Friday 6th July.

We attended the first ever Amplified Festival last year and it certainly was a wet one but the spirit of the event couldn’t be dampened and Friday 6th July 2018 saw it return for another bite at the cherry and we’re glad it did as the atmosphere we experienced throughout the weekend suggested that everyone was right behind Gary and the team in willing this festival on to be a success. In contrast to last year, we experienced some of the hottest weather to be encountered at a festival in this country and without a doubt, Amplified can now being dubbed ‘The Extreme Weather Festival’ but this year will be mostly remembered for the killer bands who played there, aswell as the excellent atmosphere that was produced by the metal/music community that we’ve all grown to love!

Sadly, I was covering this event on my own this year, which filled me with both dread and excitement in equal measures as on average, I think I covered around 9 miles each day in the sweltering 31 degree heat and I still have bruises on both my big toes to prove it, but with some of the finest bands that the music industry currently has to offer performing over the three days, it was certainly worth it.

Impavidus opened up proceedings on the Very Metal Art (VMA) stage today and to great effect. Michelle, the bands front woman was a Force majeure that few could match. Full of energy, smiles and some superb metal – what a way to kick off the weekend and they did themselves proud in more ways than one. I saw the whole band throughout the weekend watching their friends in other bands aswell as bands they admire, so credit to them for giving Amplified their all.

The first band over on the Red Stripe main stage, was non other than Torqued and having first spoken with Marc Cleave at last years event, it was good to see that they were invited to perform this year and honestly, these lads have some real energy and passion for both their music and the scene in general. I was impressed to say the least, as these guys are a credit to the industry. Marc also runs corrosive merch which offers some of the best music related items I’ve seen for a while!

I first caught Ashen Crown at this years HRH Metal event back in February and they too impressed me greatly. Over this weekend, I had an opportunity to share a hot dog with Kieran and friends, where he admitted that even he’s surprised at the level of interest and opportunities the band have received since their inception. Personally, I’m convinced it’s down to them having an amazing talent and being a great product that people will enjoy – it also helps that they’re managed by Rachael Harrison, who is one of the best in the business!

I can’t write a review of a music festival without mentioning Footprints in the Custard as these days, it would appear they are everywhere and for a very good reason too as they deliver the feel good factor where ever they perform and festival goers love watching them. They are just good fun and help to lift peoples spirits which is what live music should be about and they are pretty good musicians too, who knew! Today’s performance, saw Ward XVI’s guitarist step in at the last minute, which was greatly appreciated! I for one, love watching these guy – it’s true!

One band who are local to me, are Witch Tripper and these guys are always fun to watch. Great musicians, who also do have a love for the industry so credit to them for that. Whilst hanging with the band and grabbing a breakfast cob, one gig goer suggested the bands name reminded him of someone throwing a bit of wood into a chipping machine, which got us all a little puzzled until I clocked where he was going….wood chipper!!! HAHAHA You had to be there really! On the Saturday, they had to leave to go play a gig in Plymouth but they came back for Sundays antics, which saw me inviting Stoff to come meet Doyle for my interview with him, which he greatly appreciated but what a strange encounter that was – more about that later!

Dust Bolt also caught my attention today over on the main stage and it’s hard to believe that despite these guys having been around since 2007, I’ve only just discovered they exist! They hail from the small Bavarian town of Landsberg in Germany, so god knows who their influences are? It’s no secret, I love a good thrashing and have done so since I discovered the amazing Savage Messiah, who helped to reaffirm my love for this genre! Since then, I’ve discovered a wealth of underground talent within this genre, like Bull-Riff Stampede for example, who also played here this year! It’s not often I fall head over heals for a band these days, but when I do, I fall hard and love them instantly, I just loved the power of their music!

By the time The Dirty Youth came on to close the first day out over on the VMA Stage, the sun was going down and everyone was in excellent spirits, myself included! I don’t wanna take anything away from this excellent band but I honestly think I was high on vitamin D by this point, so these guys sounded even better than I remembered! I loved them so much so, I was screaming like a girl! They did have a very good ‘feel factor’ about them! Odd to see them on this stage, but they did do themselves proud!

SOiL headlined the main stage tonight and seeing them really was bitter sweet. The last time I saw these guys, I was given the opportunity to interview Ryan McCombs who then went on to have a heart attack two days later. Thankfully, he made a full recovery and was back up on the stage, which is great. I thought the rest of the band were great too and what’s more, the lighting tonight was much better than they are usually known for having which was also a bonus! Headliners, yes but in all honesty, not worthy of this spot tonight and this was also the opinion of many others who I spoke to over the weekend!

Strangely, people who witnessed Voodoo Blood play G’s Bar and bringing Friday’s event to a close, said that they should’ve headlined! Such an unbelievably talented bunch of musicians, who appear to be great to talk to as people, which was something I had the pleasure of doing earlier in the day. I just hope they stay grounded and not let fame ruin them as it has for so many others before them! Kim, the bands female lead vocalist is an absolute power house but to look at all 4ft 9inches of her, you wonder how the hell she manages to have such a powerful voice!!! Long will their set be cemented within the festivals archives, All hail Voodoo Blood! I’ve also managed to check out their new EP ‘Fresh Hell’ which offers four great tracks but what I really want to see is a full length album next, please!

Roll on Saturday…….if my stomach can handle it!

Be sure to visit us over on Flickr for more photos from Amplified 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums/with/72157696032365062

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

HRH Metal

Saturday’s Review (Part 1).
O2 Academy Birmingham 17th February 2018.

Oh wow Birmingham, this amazing event is now in it’s second year and appears to be getting a great reception, as this year has completely sold out! I feel fairly confident in saying that at least 95% of the those in attendance today were here to see Alestorm, myself included, but before we get to Saturdays headliners, we have a wealth of diverse metal bands to get through and there were some great bands on this weekend, however I’ll be covering the Saturday, whilst Sue is probably busy beavering away, reviewing and editing photos for Sunday! What a team!

Today’s proceedings were spread over all three stages of the O2 Academy in Birmingham which is a purpose built music venue, so you’d expect to see someone you liked on one of the three stages, if someone else you was watching wasn’t to your musical taste.

Stage 3 opened the day with a band called Ashen Crown who are in fact from the West Midlands, which is pretty handy as the stage has been named “Best of Brum”. As these guys were the first band on, it was not surprising the pit was full of photographers so I had to shoot from the sidelines, which was probably a blessing in disguise as my angle was advantageous, considering the lighting conditions that played a major part today, sadly not in a good way. I’m aware Ashen Crown played a major extreme metal event last year, so these guys are well known within the metal community. They categorise themselves simply as metal, but I’d hasten to add they’re borderline doom from what I heard! For those of you who like low growls, screaming guitars and heavy bass lines, then this band are for you.

As the main stage didn’t open up until 3pm and Stage 2 didn’t open up until 5pm either, we had Wrath of the Gods up next, again on Stage 3. Although this band have only been together since last year, they appear to be making a name for themselves, probably due to the talented musicians who make up this band. I encountered Wayne, this bands lead vocalist/guitarist, way back when I first started photographing bands, when he was in Dakesis, who played on the Sunday, incidentally. We’ve been friends on social media ever since, so I’m aware Wayne has a great passion for his guitars, he even re-builds them! Today’s weapon of choice appeared to be a rather striking black and white Ibanez….that’s the extent of my guitar knowledge, I’m afraid, however, I do appreciate a good looking guitar! Apologies to the rest of the band, for not managing to capture them, but my camera doesn’t have the ability to filter out smoke and a lot of it!

The same can be said for the next band on Stage 3 ‘Masters Call’ as I only managed to capture two, rather disappointing images of the bands lead singer, who opts to wear a black hoody, a face mask and blacked out skin. I saw one photographer with her head in her hands, literally in despair. Sure it was atmospheric and probably looked good from the crowd, but not from our perspective. I know I’m probably banging on about this way too much but it angers me, knowing that the first three bands I’ve mentioned here, were probably ecstatic to be playing such a prestigious event such as this, in the knowledge they would be able to reach a much wider audience and get good coverage from the media, but sadly, due to the lighting provided by the venue, this wouldn’t be the case! Annoying, sort it out O2!

I may as well stay on Stage 3, as I only managed to watch another three bands on this stage. Thankfully XIII were one of my bands of the weekend, so I’m glad I persevered, to be honest! This trio hail from Hull and consists of the following, Dan Murray: Lead vocals and guitars, James Oxtoby: Bass and backing vocals and Tom Cope: Drums and they are amazing live. The energy and power these three produce, is nothing short of extraordinary, I was fixated and mesmerized. I’ve been aware of this band for some time now, seeing them appearing on bills, here and there, but I was yet to see this band play live, until today that is! I’m tipping this band for big things, so watch this space!

The most disturbing band name on the bill this weekend has to go to Sodomized Cadavar, which is something Ollie, the bands lead singer appears to be very much aware of and somewhat proud of, from what I can tell. If nothing else, the name does help conjure up that ‘shock factor’ you need to prepare yourself for when watching this band, as they are out of control, where insanity barely comes close. This band were most definitely one of the most extreme of the death metal bands we have encountered, EVER! Great fun though and the crowd, a nearly full house, loved them!

My last band, on Stage 3 was Ironrat, who are from Bradford and are signed to Voltage Records. Having played on stage one, earlier, I saw Ballsdeep guitarist, Paul Priestly in attendance. Having not spoken to him in a long time, I thought I’d go over and say hello. Turns out, Ironrat are one of his favourite bands at the moment and he was happy to see them appear on the same bill as him, which meant he would get the chance to see them play. From what I saw, I was very impressed as they play stoner/rock, which also happens to be one of my favourite genres, at the moment!

Sorry to the rest of the bands, who appeared on this stage but I simply gave up trying to photograph this stage. Sure, I could of struggled on and absorbed your music, but I’m not that gifted as a writer, as this review probably demonstrates!

GraVil opened the days events up over on Stage 2 and this band have been on my radar for sometime thanks to Stampede Press, and I was looking forward to catching their set. Like a lot of the bands on today’s bill, these guys are a first for me which is why I love attending HRH events, as they do support up and coming bands. As with Stage 3, the lighting sucked and there was way too much smoke but by this point, I tried to rise above that and just enjoy the moment. An extreme metal band, from London, these guys are loud, courtesy of Tony and Charlie, who provide a two pronged assault with their guitars. The bands energy levels are right up there with the best of them, with lead singer Grant at the spearhead of the attack on the senses! This band are going places, with an already impressive resamay which reads ‘‘No More Forgiveness’ and is the follow up to GraViL’s debut album ‘Thoughts of A Rising Sun’, which saw the band perform live at Download Festival, Hammerfest and tour the UK with HellYeah. The new album’s lead single ‘Decommissioned’ was premiered on Bloodstock Radio, followed by a feature spot on Metal Hammer’s ‘New Noise III’ cover mount cd. Terrorizer Magazine streamed the album ahead of its release, as well featuring the track ‘One Eyed King’ on their Fear Candy cd. GraViL’s new “punch to the gut” music video ‘Detonate’ recently received premieres by Scuzz TV and Metal Hammer.

Again, apologies to the rest of the bands, who played on Stage 2 but I’d had enough of shooting through smoke, however, I made an exception for Fury, who are a band I love, like brothers. It would appear this band are going through some personnel changes at present, which worried me slightly. I’m aware Jake is on a time out at present, Mart has moved onto a different path with his music and I’ve discovered Al is also soon to be departing, which leaves only JJ left, as an original founding member of the band. On bass, we now see Becky, who I’ve encountered in many other bands before this, and she is an exceptional bass player. On lead guitar, we now see Anthony, who, by all accounts, is also an exceptional and diverse musician.

Before the band took to the stage and as I was talking to a fellow photographer, we were interrupted by a reveller stating that he loved Fury so much, could he possibly buy a photo of the band from tonight’s gig, as a memento? This gesture kind of summed this band up, for me as although the changes within the band are apparent, they haven’t lost any of that magic that I’ve grown to love over the years. If anything, they are better and definitely 25% better looking.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)