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HRH Metal

Sunday’s live review of stages 2 and 3
O2 Academy Birmingham 18th February 2018.

With the dust still settling from the rather excellent day one of HRH Metal 2018, Sunday’s bands were raring to go and getting things well under way over on Stage 3, were Devil’s Playground. Taking a few on stage technical difficulties all in their stride, Devil’s Playground ignited the audience into action with a forty minute set that was built to impress. With Leanne sadly missing from the bands line up today, Katie King from Cenfora owned that mic in her absence and all in all, Devil’s Playground set the bar pretty high for all those about to follow.

Next up on Stage 3 were the Nottingham based band, Incinery who brought about our first taste of thrash for the day. With their fast, furious and merciless metal assault prevailing, the crowd did not hold back their appreciation and this was most definitely a set that went down a storm!

With today’s events over on Stage 1 getting underway at 3pm, the pressure to be in two places at the same time commenced and resulted in me only catching the last few songs of Vice’s set but what I did see and hear was pretty impressive, as was their performance and the way that this band gel so well together. Discovering new bands is a real draw to HRH Metal for me and this band is one that I will certainly be looking out for in the future.

In these parts of the West Midlands, our next band up on Stage 3 are pretty much everyday hero’s so it was no surprise at all, to witness The Mighty Wraith playing to a pretty packed out hall. With their adrenaline fuelled metal ramped for maximum impact, the atmosphere in the room was fantastic and judging by the size of the smile on vocalist Matt Gore’s face, this was one gig that they will happily reflect on for a long time to come.

Trivax next and here we have yet another West Midlands based band who stand in a league of their own, with their blackest of metal taking on a life of its own. There is an addictive air of intense turmoil to be experienced within this bands music, which I find to be both foreboding yet magnetic when caught in it’s grip – an excellent set from Trivax and one of my favourite performances of the day.

Nightmare World were next to pick up the metal gauntlet and deliver a set that was both charismatic and melodic in it’s style. The band have announced that they are now intending to start work on a second album so do keep checking their Facebook page for more news on that aswell as future gigs.

Sadly, with all three stages now in full swing by the time I galloped back to Stage 3 to catch Skarthia, they had just finished their set so apologies to the band for not making it back there in time to see them play live. I did however manage to catch the rather fantastic Sister Shotgun and I have to hand it to Chloe Ozwell for completely owning this set and if you like your metal laced with lashings of rage, vocal power and va-va-voom, then Sister Shotgun are just what you’re looking for!

Closing out Stage 3 in their own unique and unforgiving style were Dead Hands, whose performance tonight was nothing short of savage! Dead Hands have a wildly alternative approach to their sound and I found myself making the comparison to the now disbanded band Heck, who also had that same crazy ability to detonate on impact. With Stage 3 having been a hive of activity over these past two days and having provided the most discerning of metalheads with some pretty awesome bands to relish, it would only be right to go out on a ferocious high and that was exactly what happened – courtesy of Dead Hands.

With Stage 2 getting underway at 5pm in the O2 Academy’s upstairs hall, I briefly managed to catch the most brutal of attacks courtesy of Swansea’s own, Lifer. This band have quite a reputation for producing a tempestuous onslaught of combined thrash metal, doom and southern style rock that sits within a league of its own and from what I witnessed of their performance today, this bands metal is seriously good!

Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of seeing the birth and to follow the journey of many great up and coming bands and Torous, who were next up on Stage 2, easily sit within that category. Tonight’s set from the band served a very special purpose indeed as it was to be their final performance, so it was destined to be a bitter sweet event from the start. Bathed in blazing white light, the visual impact they delivered was as spectacular as their music and all in all, it was an amazing and emotional epitaph for both band and audience alike.

The final band that I managed to catch over on Stage 2 were Attica Rage and this set also held great meaning to all those present, with it being the final performances for guitarist Stevie Bell whose impending departure was announced last month. Hell bent on making this an occasion to remember, Attica Rage gave the audience an A+ set and as with many of the other bands who played over this two day event, they certainly gave HRH Metal their all.

In addition to stages 2 and 3, I also caught some pretty awesome performances over on Stage 1 today and if you would like to check out more of the photos from all three stages, then just hit the link and check out the gallery over on Flickr!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Midlands Metal Crusade

25th November at The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton.

Hils Ovations Midlands Metal Crusades have now become a regular and much looked forward to celebration of the Midlands metal scene and today’s event at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton see’s it’s seventh reincarnation ready to roar.

And getting today’s immense shenanigan’s underway were the exceptionally talented Devils Playground, who really have given their all this year and stamped their mark firmly upon the West Midlands local metal scene. With a stage performance awash in energy and attitude, it was easy to see why this band scored such a great hit at this years Bloodstock and with such talent and enthusiasm that continually seems to grow, I can’t wait to see what this band will bring about next.

Our second band of the day were the deliciously colourful SID who despite being a very recent addition to today’s line up, had a pretty hearty crowd of fans ready, willing and waiting for them to get up on stage and do their thing! SID’s set was as always, full of metal character and there is never a dull moment to be had when these guys are around as their stage presence is equally as charismatic as their music.

Next up and a firm favourite of mine were Netherhall. I wholeheartedly admire this band as they bring to the airwaves a uniqueness that is born out of a progressive creativity which just seems to know no boundaries. Today’s set from Netherhall held The Slade Rooms captive and was an absolute pleasure to experience.

With 5.30pm fast approaching, it was time for relative newcomers Torqued to take to the stage. But having described them as that, there was absolutely no denying that the ability, experience and no bullshit approach that these guys have for their metal, is propelling them in exactly the right direction – and fast!

Marking the mid-way point of the day were Master’s Call and here we have a band whose brand of blackened death metal is both brutal and disturbing to the point of perfection. Lead singer Shayan, cuts a menacing dark figure on stage, which most definitely adds to the impressive stance that this band deliver.

Our next band to take to the stage were Fire Red Empress and recent months have seen anticipation growing for the release of the band’s outstanding album, ‘Black Morphine‘, which I have to say is something they can TRULY be proud of. With several tracks included in tonight’s performance, their thirty minute set flew by way too fast but I’m very pleased to say that Fire Red Empress will be back at The Slade Rooms again for Hils Ovation on 20th January 2018, so get that date down in your diary now as this gig will be one that your really don’t want to miss!

Fire Red Empress – ‘GIANTS’ Official Video.

2017 has been quite a year for Vicious Nature and just as their popularity continues to grow, so do they musically and for me, the set that they delivered tonight was one of the highlights of the day. It’s always great to see a band enjoying their performance as much as their audience and factors such as that really do fuel the anticipation for what comes next, which I understand will be a new EP so I shall definitely look forward to that!

Our penultimate band of the day were At Dawn We Attack and with their endless energy and adrenaline free flowing throughout the entirety of their set, these guys really put their own stamp of excellence to the day. With guest vocalists also joining them up on stage, their was no shortage of community spirit to be enjoyed which was really quite something to be a part of.

And without further ado, it was time for our guest headliners of the day to hit the stage and much to the audible appreciation of The Slade Rooms audience, that is exactly what Orange Goblin did. With a small army of Orange Goblin troops in attendance, there was no denying that they got the performance that they came to see, with songs such as ‘Scorpionica‘, ‘The Filthy & The Few‘ and the rather epic ‘Red Tide Rising‘ being included within tonight’s set list choice and bringing today’s top notch event to a rousing close.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Midlands Metal Crusade VI

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 26th November 2016.

There are some events that will never fail to be highlights of my year and The Midlands Metal Crusade is one of them, as events such as this bring together so many of the great bands who are loved and supported throughout the area and ultimately, it is a showcase for the local music scene at it’s finest.

Today’s line up will see eight bands take to the stage at The Slade Rooms here in Wolverhampton and getting this impressive event underway, were Exiles Of Elysium. In the company of an enthusiastic and eager audience, these five guys rolled out an adrenaline packed set with the savage lead vocals of Andy Horton, faultless to the core.

Andy Horton - Exiles of Elysium

And keeping the momentum rising were our second band of the day, Devil’s Playground. When you consider that these guys and gal have only been together since December 2015, the level of admiration and support that they’ve already achieved, speaks volumes about the music and stage presence that this talented band possess. Today’s eight song set from Devil’s Playground fitted the bill perfectly and without any doubt at all, confirmed that these guys are a band to watch out for.

The Midlands Metal Crusade first came to fruition back in 2013 and one of the many great bands who have repeatedly supported it, are XVII. Today’s set from the band saw them raging at full throttle with their merciless riffs and vocals making for one hell of a great performance but no surprises there, as anything less than 100% from XVII, just ain’t gonna happen!

Vaughan Bennett - XVII

Our next band of the day were Black Ink Sun and given the speed at which their reputation is growing, this band were one who were definitely not to be missed. Consumed within a turmoil of writhing aggression, their sound and style is rapturously feral and had the audience firmly within it’s grip, throughout the entirety of the set. I can only echo the good words that have already been said about Black Ink Sun and I hope that the new year brings them back up this way again – sharpish!

With the Midlands Metal Crusade having raced past it’s midway point, there was no time or chance to exhale, as the momentum within The Slade Rooms was still rising fast, for the awesomeness that is Haerken. As a wee sproggling, I loved nothing more than to be spirited away by a captivating storybook and for me, Haerken possess that same quality, as within each and every performance of theirs, there is a dramatic adventure to behold. Tonight’s set not only saw Haerken commanding the stage but also gave rise to an Evil Scarecrow and brother in arms, Monty Blitzfist joining them for a song or two, which truly went down a storm.

Laird Logan Haerken

With the event now running slightly behind schedule, not a moment was left to waste and the fast paced thrash of Eradikator was set to drive the night on with exceptional dexterity. Drenched with a torrent of adrenaline, the intricacy and detail of their twin riff attacks was all consuming and tonight’s set from the band saw them on absolute peek form, with the atmosphere on stage rolling off stage aswell and producing a sea of fists pumping the air. For me, this was Eradikator at their finest and an absolute pleasure to behold.

Liam Priest - Eradikator

Over the years, I’ve had the great privilege of photographing and reviewing Martyr De Mona on many an occasion, so for me and many others here at The Slade Rooms tonight, this evenings set from the band was destined to be a bitter/sweet one as after a hefty ten years of making some pretty outstanding music, this was going to be their last performance… ever. To say that emotions were running high is an understatement but true to form, when the going gets tough, Martyr De Mona have always stood tall and tonight these guys owned the stage like giants!

Louis Hale - Martyr de Mona

With former band member Ant Rickett also making a guest appearance, the years rolled back with ease, with the warmth and recognition ringing out in the audiences appreciation at the end of each and every song. With such a wealth of anthems to MDM’s name, it’s hard to imagine how one track could stand out in tonight’s set but their final song of the night ‘Gravity Breaks’ made for the most lasting of memories, because if ever a song was written in the innocence of how poignant it’s lyrics would become, then this song is it. Martyr De Mona will without doubt be missed but here’s wishing that whatever light shines on their future, it will be a very bright one indeed.

The metal genre has produced a wealth of hero’s and amongst that list you can’t fail but find our Crusade headliners, as Evil Scarecrow are what I would classify as legends in their own universe. The live experience of Evil Scarecrow is one which has always left me grinning from ear to ear and quite often speechless, and with that probability fixed firmly in mind, the madness and mirth commenced!

Dr Rabid Hell - Evil Scarecrow

From the moment that Evil Scarecrow set foot on stage, the audience were electric and I think that it’s fair to say that Evil Scarecrow set out to enjoy their time on stage as much as their fans did. Just as I’d hoped, we were all swept up by their all consuming aura and none more so than in the company of ’Crabulon’, which saw the audience pinching the air and furtively scuttling across the Slade Rooms like their lives depended on it! And of all the Crusades that I’ve attended over the years, tonight’s finale was most definitely one of a kind.

This Midland Metal Crusade has definitely been a highlight of my year and when it comes down to making an excellent day like today happen, the contribution of so many is key to it’s success. Thanks must go out to all the bands for getting up there and raising the roof, the audience for keeping live music live, the staff at The Slade Rooms and Wolverhampton Civic for providing an excellent home for the Midlands Metal Crusade and also the Sound/lighting engineers for keeping us all rocking.

Big thumbs up must go out to Tony Gaskin aswell for joining the dots up on stage and of course, to the Mother of Metal herself, Hils, whose tireless commitment to the metal scene is truly awesome. x

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.