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Hils Ovation Presents

Warlord with support from Garganjua/ Shebrew/ Spiral Dive

and From Eden To Exile.

The O2 Academy3 Birmingham 28th June 2014.

When it comes down to presenting a line up of great metal prowess, Hils Ovation nails it down tight every single time and with tonight’s line up as billed, this evenings gig looks set to follow on in exactly that same tradition.

The extreme power and brutal force of From Eden To Exile made for a merciless starting point to the night and with nothing held back in his performance, Mike Thomas on vocals, shattered the stillness of the early evening crowd at the O2 Academy. Fast and furious by design, From Eden To Exile laid down a perfectly executed set that pumped the adrenaline up to 10 and gave us all a great start to the night!

From Eden To Exile

Bringing the rock up with them from down Kettering way, were our second band of the night, Spiral Dive. With the weight of classic heavy metal behind them and vocals reminiscent of Ozzy himself, Birmingham welcomed this band with open arms but then why wouldn’t they when you have several great songs such as ‘Grinder’ in your set! Why not give yourself a bit of a treat and check these guys out over at http://www.spiral-dive.co.uk/home.html

Spiral Dive

Next up on stage and sending out a hearty helping of stylish stoner vibes, were the Birmingham based band Shebrew. It really is all about the music for these guys, as their rich instrumental melodies simply roll off the stage whilst being perfectly complimented by the vocal breaks of Francis Anthony. The music of this powerful trio really leaves you wanting for nothing and undoubtedly got the quality thumbs up from tonight’s audience.


Our fourth and penultimate band for the evening was the stoner/sludge doom ‘wizards’ from Leicestershire, Garganjua. Now this is a band I’ve wanted to see live for quite some time as the recorded material of theirs that I’ve listened to, distinctly bares a fearless force combined with a hint of hypnotic psychosis – and that ain’t something you come across on a regular basis! And with songs such as ‘Lazy Green’ being translated into their live performance tonight, I can happily confirm that the wait was well and truly worth it!


Three was definitely the magic number tonight as our headliners and third three piece band of the evening, swiftly set about proving that very fact. Warlord were a phenomenal experience upon the senses as not only did they deliver a metal amalgamation that was embellished thru to it’s savage core but they also delivered a visual presentation that ricocheted across the eyes like a technological battle scene. An outstanding end to the night and one hell of a performance!


Once again, tonight’s Hils Ovation gig gave Birmingham five great metal performances – and you really can’t ask for more than that!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Hils Ovation

Upon Descent/ IHYM/ Our World Below?/ This Game Of Ghosts and Apparition.

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 15th February 2014.

When you see the name Hils Ovation on a gig poster, it’s a sure fire guarantee that you’re in for one ‘ell of a good night of metal and tonight was certainly destined to be exactly that!

With a line up of both familiar and new faces here at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton, there was one new face in particular I was keen to see, that being Grace Meridan from Chicago USA, who was making her first of four appearances with Stafford based band, Apparition.. I raise my glass in admiration to Grace and the band, as I can’t begin to imagine the amount of long distance preparation a venture such as this requires, but with the unveiling of their first live symphonic performance of metal and opera, it was definitely all systems go! My only disappointment was that more people were not here to see them, so please check out their Facebook pages for details of future performances and show these guys some love.

Grace Meridan with Apparition

Our second band on stage were This Game Of Ghosts who hail from Stoke-On-Trent. With a sound that is brutal to the Deathcore, these guys are nothing short of a whirlwind on stage and with the ravaged vocals of Max Cottrell serving to heighten their intensity, these guys have a bite in their music that is as deadly as a rattlesnake. Plenty of appreciation being shown tonight by the increasing numbers in the audience and a strong set greatly enjoyed by me.

Adam Rider - This Game Of Ghosts

Our World Below? are no strangers to Hils Ovation’s gigs and when a band and their music are as good as this, that really comes as no great surprise. Tonight’s set was a mix of wild and melodic heaviness that frequently crossed through to the dark side with Dave Riley unleashing some ferocious vocals much to the delight of the audience. In addition to a mighty fine set from the band, there was some sharing of good news relating to their forthcoming album launch, which is set for 12th July and will also mark the celebration of Hils Ovations birthday bash – and that is going to be a night you DON’T want to miss!

Dave Riley - Our World Below

Having heard great things about I Hate You More or IHYM as they are known to friends, tonight’s set was a much anticipated first for me and what an introduction to their universe it was! Ripped to the last thread of thrash and hardcore, this three piece band from Birmingham is a force to be reckoned with! Not only does their sound hit the spot, they know how to put on a performance and from my privileged place in the pit I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by some of the most expressive snarls I’ve seen in a long time!

Phil - IHYM

Tonight’s headliners, Upon Descent, are no strangers to Hils Ovation’s events either but with tonight seeing them riding high on the second announcement of the evening, which confirmed their support slot with the mighty Soulfly on the 25th February, the adrenaline on stage (and off) seemed to take their performance to a new level.

Belvedere Bailey - Upon Descent

Dab Brown on vocals, launched and led the heavy metal infused charge upon The Slade Rooms to its full glory and judging by the audiences’ cheers, that was one victory that tasted very sweet!

Dab Brown - Upon Descent

Tonight saw five great bands give five great performance and you really can’t ask for anything more than that!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Hils Ovation Presents

The Slade Rooms - 16th November 2013

Winter Storm with support from Awake By Design/ In Dantes Eclipse and Needle Poppets.

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 16th November 2013.

It’s hard to believe that it was only seven months ago that plans to record an album over the summer months were first shared, and true to hopeful expectation, ‘Within The Frozen Design’ has laid bare a splendiferous collection of Winter Storm tracks. Representing an alluring concept that marks the journey of a being, and I quote, “Trapped in his own universe, which he believes he is designing and constructing, but as the story unfolds he realises it was simply all mere coincidence and in fact he had no control and therefore spirals into madness”, this album gives the listener an intriguing and thought provoking musical journal of the beings decline. Listening to ‘Within The Frozen Design’ and keeping this concept in mind, the power of the story grows as each song unfolds, and I found myself completely drawn in to the whole hypothesis of the experience.

Within The Frozen Design - Winter Storm

With such a strong aura around this album, tonight’s launch demanded a line up to match and with our opening act Needle Poppets, sitting well outside the metal genre, their set presented a very interesting conundrum. Comprising of Alex Jones on drums/backing vocals and Alec Bond on keyboard and lead vocals, this duo have whipped up an interesting story book enigma that is rich in artistry, delivered with acute proficiency and served with a dash of the theatrical edge. Did tonight’s audience take to their diversity, hell yes they did – and who wouldn’t as these guys are borne from the kind of DNA that once seen is not meant to be forgotten.

Needle Poppets

In Dantes Eclipse were next to take to the stage and without doubt, these guys and gal know how to throw rock, glam and a twist of the gothic into the mixing pot and turn out something that is wildly daring and easily habit forming. Tonight’s set saw them on top form much to the delight of The Slade Rooms’ audience, and with some impressive gigs already on their calendar for 2014, In Dantes Eclipse look set to take the New Year on a high!

Benjamin Jogee - In Dantes Eclipse

The inclusion of Awake By Design as main support to Winter Storm, really was a stroke of pure genius as these guys never fail to represent the finest of the finest within the glorious community of melodic metal for many a year now. Adrian Powell is a titan of a front man both vocally and charismatically and regardless of the restriction that the size of the stage presented to this six piece band, there simply was no holding back the combined musical force and vitality that is always Awake By Design.

Awake By Design

The arrival of Winter Storm on stage was announced by an instrumental overture that led us straight into the deep and foreboding world of ‘Dark Awakening’. Amassed with an assault of unyielding drum beats and the glacial coolness of Hannah Fieldhouse’s vocals, this song is rich in all things metal and shows Winter Storm on their very greatest form.

Hannah Fieldhouse - Winter Storm

As their set continued, it was a pleasure to see tonight’s audience give full appreciation to the band but with songs that reach such fine calibre as that found in ‘Afraid To Speak’ and ‘Universal Design’ the success of tonight’s album launch had always been a sure fire guarantee.

Winter Storm

Set list for this evening was: 1.Intro 2.Dark Awakening 3.The Embrace 4.Shadow Weaver 5. Afraid To Speak 6.Wasted Feelings 7.Gatekeeper 8.Universal Design 9.The Frozen Siren, with Firedancer as encore.

I don’t think tonight could be called anything less than an all round and complete success. The line up and individual performances of all bands involved could not have been sweeter and as for the album itself, ‘Within The Frozen Design’ is definitely well worthy of 110% of your attention!!

Words by Sue Wardle and Photography by Lisa Billingham (billibee creative Ltd)