Tag Archives: haerken

HRH Metal

Saturday’s Review (Part 2).
O2 Academy Birmingham 17th February 2018.

So, after spending the early part of Saturday over on Stages 2 and 3, it was time for things to get underway on Stage 1 and a saving grace in my opinion, when it came down to my personal enjoyment today as the lighting was exceptional, which is why I caught every band playing on it! First up then, Collibus.

My first encounter with this band, was at another fantastically run festival, called SOS Festival which is based up in Manchester, where this band are from. I remember thinking then, what a phenomenally powerful singer Gemma was and still is today! I love the originality in this bands music although it is hard to categorise, so we’ll simply call them a great metal band.

Another band I haven’t seen for a long time is Ballsdeep – since Swampy played on bass, to be honest. I’ve always enjoyed watching this band perform but today’s set was magnificent. Their sound and energy suited the larger stage and the crowd loved them. I was pleased Paul remembered who I was and managed to flip me the middle finger, which he has done in every other show I’ve photographed him at. Bez pondered whether they were the best band the crowd will see today? That’s a bold statement, but they were very good, so a just comment.

Surprisingly, today’s next band up, on the main stage, were an Iron Maiden-esq type band, who go by the name Monument and they were definitely another highlight for me today. I say surprisingly, because I’m not a massive fan of Iron Maiden, I find them a little, how do I put it, over the top but these guys impressed me greatly. Although they follow a similar style, I’d say they were a more stripped back version, yet with the same raw power as Maiden. Peter Ellis is a very charismatic front man, a bit like Bruce, to be fair and I love his style and energy. Not sure how many people know this, but Peter actually makes belts, not your typical trouser belt, no, the kind that gets awarded in sporting events, like wrestling and boxing, which is a fact I find very interesting! What a cool job! As a live music act, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better, more hard working act than these guys. Definitely check out Monument, if you get the chance!

Next up on Stage 1 and yet another band I’ve encountered before, were Haerken but it has been a long time since I’ve seen them perform, so I was looking forward to seeing how these guys have changed – if at all. These local lads opt for a viking/medieval themed style of metal, which is very unique to them but is growing in popularity with live music lovers, as it’s fun to watch. It would appear their stage set up, costumes and props have improved along with their popularity, judging by the crowd that turned out to see them. I’d like to say I’m pretty good friends with Justin, the bands lead singer/rhythm guitar player and Ben, the bands bassist, as I’ve met them at many other festivals over the years. I recall Justin and I being the last two standing at the first ever Beermageddon, many moons ago. They performed at that festival and I recall how much fun they were back then, throwing out plastic swords and watching the crowd attack each other, in a playful way, and this was one of the reasons why I fell in love with this band. I’m happy to report that they’ve lost none of that playful interaction with the crowd or amongst themselves and are every bit as much fun as I remember. Today, we had the band playing the classic game with the audience of who’s louder – Justin’s side or Ben’s side, and with the crowd shouting back at the band, Ben’s side was the clear winner – much to Justin’s disappointment but all in good humour. Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist even joined the band on stage towards the end of their set to help with a song. He wasn’t their only guest of the day, as we also saw a bag pipe player, which is a remarkable instrument that makes a great sound. I’m aware Haerken will be performing at another HRH event this December, aptly named HRH Vikings, so these guys will definitely go down a storm!

The Dread Crew of Oddwood were up next and I can safely say they were the least metal band on today’s bill, but by no means the least interesting. Their self proclaimed style of ‘Heavy Mahogany’ consists of an organ player, a double bassist, a flute player, a drummer and some kind of ukulele (small guitar, you usually see in medieval movies). I believe these guys have been main support on Alestorm’s current tour, so it made sense to include them on today’s bill as they are a very entertaining act indeed. Great fun to watch, musically very unique and very funny, albeit close to the bone humour on occasion. If you’re playing a metal festival, it’s probably a good idea to not alienate your audience, just saying!

With a main stage bill, built around the humour of Alestorm, it was no surprise to see Evil Scarecrow next up on the main stage. Let’s face it, this band generate just about as much fun as you can have, with your clothes on! They are now also every promoters wet dream because they are sure to bring in the crowds. After obtaining a couple of great shots of this band I made a swift exit, simply because I felt as if Princess Luxury was going to gauge out my eye balls every time I pointed my camera at her.

As I’ve seen Evil Scarecrow so much, I thought I’d run on over to Stage 3 to catch the headliners, Elimination, closing the days events out on this stage. Let’s face it, any band that goes up against ES on a bill is going to struggle to pull in the punters, as everyone is usually watching them. Sadly, this was the same situation here, which must be demoralising for any band, however Elimination didn’t let the lack of crowd stop them from giving it their all. I tried desperately to capture these guys, but I’m sad to report I couldn’t even manage one decent picture. Pretty dismal situation, all round then!

And finally, to Alestorm. Apparently, they’re from The Banana Islands in Sierra Leone and are a female fronted smooth jazz band, who are signed with Napalm Records – I did not know that, but it’s good to know! Seriously though, Alestorm are a multi-national pirate metal band originally from Perth, Scotland. Their music is characterised by a pirate theme, and as a result they have been dubbed a “pirate metal” band by many critics and their fan base. After signing to Napalm Records in 2007, their debut album ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’, was released on 25 January 2008. ‘Black Sails at Midnight’, the band’s second album, was released on 27 May 2009. The band’s third album, ‘Back Through Time’, was released on 3 June 2011. The fourth album from the band, ‘Sunset on the Golden Age’, was released in August 2014. Their fifth and latest album ‘No Grave But the Sea’ was released on 26 May 2017. (Credit Wikipedia)

As expected, the crowd went nuts for these guys, with crowd surfers a plenty. Sadly, one lady hurt her foot coming over the barrier, as the security guard couldn’t quite get her to the ground safely. To be honest, there are in fact signs up, in and around the venue that clearly state “No Crowd Surfing. Doing so could get you ejected from the venue”. Security don’t even have an obligation to catch crowd surfers and could, by rights, let the surfer fall onto the metal security rails and the ground, so the fact they put themselves in potential harms way to save crowd surfers is noble. Remember that, the next time you think its a good idea to crowd surf, yeah it’s fun, but you could get hurt. I hope the young lady was ok, after the paramedics looked after her. Thankfully, this didn’t ruin anyone else’s enjoyment and the band continued on with their epic set.

It’s well know that lead singer Christopher Bowes wears a kilt but what isn’t known is does he wear anything else underneath? I’m pleased to report that he does in fact wear boxer shorts, as I got a pretty good view whilst he was flashing me, whilst I was capturing him with my camera!

This is a pretty epic review, even for my standards, just as today was a truly epic event! Some say we had an earthquake today here in Birmingham – I didn’t feel anything other than the bass line from the O2’s epic sound system on the main stage, which probably recorded a reading of 7.1 on the Richter scale today. BOOM!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

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.

Hils Ovation

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 17th September 2016.

Tonight’s Hils Ovation show see’s me back at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton and with a line up comprising of Parrhesia, Slaughter Horse, Mordrake Haerken and King Goat, this is a show that looks fit for royalty – of the Metal kind!

Opening up the show this evening were Parrhesia who are local to the Birmingham area. Consisting of Hontus (guitar and vocals), Dave (bass) and Callum on drums, these three guys deal in metal of the most interesting kind as they have an edge to their individual performances which works exceptionally well when combined all together. Front of stage see’s Hontus and Dave working the metal solidly whilst Callum and his sticks whip up a furious frenzy that is addictive to watch. If you get the chance to check Parrhesia out live – do it!


Our second band on tonight’s line up were Slaughter Horse and here we have a band whose energy, brutal metal and rather unique identity always speaks for itself. When experiencing a set from Slaughter Horse, you are guaranteed that it will be a colourful occurrence as their intensity is as vibrant as their face and body paint and believe me when I say that Slaughter Horse are a band that once seen, you will never forget!


Next to take to the stage were Mordrake and not having seen these guys play live before, this was a set that I was greatly looking forward to – especially after reading the reviews of their performance at this years Bloodstock. Tonight’s set from Mordrake saw them harness the weight of their dark and impressive sound much to the approval of the Slade Rooms audience and myself. The band have a few more dates in their diary over the forthcoming months and I would highly recommend you make a point of catching them live if you can.


There are some bands whose attention to detail is dam near close enough to a theatrical experience and our next band of the night, Haerken, are masters at this very kind of adventure. With the stage set to herald their arrival, it almost felt like we were witnessing a triumphant return from battle and as for the set itself, that was definitely a fearsome siege that very few could match.


There aren’t too many bands whose presence has stood the test of centuries but Haerken are certainly one who have, and long may they reign as this is metal at it’s very greatest!


Tonight’s line up so far has been a pretty visual one so it was a bit of a shock to the system to see our headlining band King Goat perform in relative darkness. Albeit a bit of a disappointment from a photographic point of view, the atmosphere this creates gets the other senses working in overdrive as the quality and detail of their songs reined very clear and the vocal tones of Trim are really quite something to behold. I didn’t expect this kind of aura to hold my attention but the mastery of King Goat was nothing short of mesmerising and delivered an experience that I would happily repeat.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.