The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 8th March 2014.
I’m very much feeling that the Black Country Metal Fest should best be described as the hallowed love child of Obzidian and The Midlands Metalheads as in this, the third year of the offspring’s existence, the Midlands metal community has already found a home for it in their hearts.
With the doors opening on time and XVII heralding the start of today’s event, the Black Country Metal Fest was very quickly propelled forward with an array of frantic fretwork and biting vocals that this band have the well earned reputation of delivering. A set much appreciated by the healthy sized audience already present and a great start to the day.
Having travelled across from Nottingham to be part of today’s event, Ropewalk were next up and quick to roll out their decadent blend of metal core. Ant Gamble played bass like a man completely engrossed and on a mission to find salvation and from a photographers perspective, this was a great image to capture.
The West Midlands has a wealth of talent in its metal community and Left For Red are a mighty fine example of just that very fact. Describing themselves as “Modern metal with a progressive twist”, gives us a fair overview of what this band strive to achieve and in reflection of that analysis, today’s set confirmed that that is exactly what they deliver. The influence of great bands such as Pantera and Iron Maiden can certainly be heard in Left For Red’s songwriting but they also take one step over the edge of that style into darker waters and that is where these guys stand out in their own right!
Our next band to take to the stage was those unsurpassable gentlemen of metal, Gehtika. These guys really have corned the market of once seen, never to be forgotten and throughout the entirety of their thirty five minute set, the audience inhaled deeply their euphoric performance and lived every single minute of it to the max. A great highlight of today for me that left me with the belief that I had just witnessed legends in the making.
With three hours of metal already under my belt and snuggled up next to a juicy Big Mac, I was more than ready for my metal infusion to continue, in the shape of the London based band, DripBack – or at least I thought I was ready! There is only one way I can describe the experience of this band and that is to relate it to how I’d expect the backdraft of a nuclear bomb to feel! In that split second before their stage combustion, you can feel the living breath being sucked right out of the body and there ain’t a thing you can do about it. Outstanding experience from these guys and one I will remember for a long time to come!
One of the many things that has stood out about today, has been the mix of bands we have seen who span across the vast genre of metal and with that thought in mind, our next band of the day Ancient Ascendant brought us some fantastical Death metal, along with an interesting array of beardedness! As the bands name suggests, there is much depth and creative darkness to be heard in their music, none more so than in the lyrics to their songs, and with a new album ‘Echoes and Cinders’ due for release at the end of March, I shall definitely be checking that one out.
Of all the bands on today’s line up, the one I’d most eagerly anticipated had to be Savage Messiah. With many a blazing recommendation spoken by those who have religiously (no pun intended) followed this band, their rich catalogue of ruthless heavy metal easily backed up such acclaim and endorsed the impressive reputation that these guys have earned. Tonight’s set gave Wolverhampton the most unholy of delight’s, with songs from both album’s past and present and making for a performance that went way beyond my expectation.
With just three bands left to play, Flayed Disciple were next up on stage and if you like your metal to be thrashed within inches of it’s life, then you really do need to see these guys! Tim ‘Death Chuggin’ Whyte is an absolute entity to be reckoned with – with vocals that cut like a cat o’ nine tails and a stage presence capable of haunting your darkest nightmares, this was perhaps the most jaw dropping performance of the day for me!
Our penultimate band for the evening was Obzidian and these guys really do deserve much praise for their part in the organisation of The Black Country Metal Fest. Today can only be described as an outstanding success and I can’t begin to imagine the adrenaline rush that these guys must have experienced throughout their performance, in the knowledge of that fact. Clearly loved by the audience, The Slade Rooms hung onto their every note and with much respect also being shown by fellow band members who came out to watch, I’m sure this has to be one gig Obzidian will remember for many years to come!
Our headliners for today and warriors worthy of bringing this event to a victorious close were the Louisiana based band, Crowbar. The history book tells us that Crowbar are one of the main and early ambassadors of Sludge Metal and the Wolverhampton audience held nothing back in showing their appreciation, with all metal being hungrily received. The Slade Rooms remained completely engulfed in the brazen distortion and contrasting riffs of Crowbar who brought a great day to an end in a pristine style.
Today’s celebration of metal has certainly left us all with a taste for more from the Black Country Metal Fest that was soothed only with the promise that this great day will be repeated next year. I can’t begin to even imagine the work that has gone into making a day such as this a reality so credit really must go to those who not only toiled hard to make it happen, but who made it such a resounding success by supporting it!
Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.