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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)

Hils Ovation Presents

A Born Disaster/ Theia/ Four Floors Of Whores/ Balls Deep and Face Of A Stranger.

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 8th November 2013.

November is proving to be one of the most promising months of my gigging year so far. With so many mammoth gigs lined up and all boasting an amazing wealth of up and coming bands from across the Midlands, tonight’s Hils Ovation gig fits that bill completely with a line up to be proud of.

Getting tonight’s line up off to a flying start were local metalists, A Born Disaster and as a band, these guys sit so far away from what their name suggests – it’s untrue! With a sound built from an alloy of fiercesome riffs and expressive vocals that are embodied upon a resonant core of bass and drums, these guys sure have a great thing going for them. Highlight of the set for me and for many others there to hear it, was their version of the Power Rangers anthem and I have to admit, I loved it!

David Woodhouse - A Born Disaster

Moving us on from one bunch of super hero’s to another, were the mighty Theia. Having been a recent music224 Band Of The Week, I was already pretty much addicted to the new single ‘We’re Alive’, but seeing them live went almost beyond believing as these guys have more rock and boulder than an avalanche! With so much energy and charisma on stage, plus a fantastic compilation of songs, I see a very bright future for this band, so people take note of their name and next time you see it on a gig poster, get yourself down there – you won’t regret it!

TJ Weston - Theia

Our third band for tonight were Four Floors Of Whores and for those connoisseurs of metal who like their music intense and played with a velocity that will ricochet off the walls, ceiling and just about every other place it touches, then these guys are the band for you. Four Floors Of Whores are still less than a year old in creation, not that that was evident from tonight’s performance as their set was incessantly tight and savage in it’s execution, so here’s hoping the next twelve months serves them just as well, as I suspect there is still a lot more to come from this band!

Carl Marshall and Lee Doughty - Four Floors Of Whores

I’d already heard many good things about our penultimate band Balls Deep, but seeing them really is believing as I was to discover! With a song catalogue that buries itself deep within a valley of caustic metal, Rich Beresford on vocals spits out fire and brimstone in his every note, whilst Roy ‘Swampi’ Beetham on bass gives new meaning to the word psychotic! Not a band for the faint hearted or those of a nervous disposition but definitely a must go see for the rest of the world!

Rich Beresford - Balls Deep

And so came the time for Face Of A Stranger to take to the stage. Tonight’s gig had real meaning for the band as it marked their first headlining slot and one quick look back from the photo pit across The Slade Rooms, confirmed that there were a fair few people here tonight eager to show their support for the band and to share in a piece of the memory aswell.

Joe Lewis - Face Of A Stranger

With a set list of nine songs richly steeped in rock melodies and emotive vocals, and including the gloriously addictive ‘Shutting Me Down’, Face The Stranger made a few new friends tonight and as the last note faded away, the look on their faces clearly said that this had been a gig that they will be wearing with pride for a long time to come.

Mitch Jones - Face Of A Stranger

Once again, Hils Ovation and The Slade Rooms have been the perfect hosts to a great night of bands from across the Midlands and with music this good, you really couldn’t ask for much more!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Hils Ovation

Hils Ovation 7th June 2013

Diamond Lil/ Fury/ Vandaliers/ Dead Star Coalition

and At The Mercy.

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 7th June 2013.

June is once again upon us and the mighty internet is heaving with all the talk and anticipation of the impending summer festivals. With the weather being what I would class as a poor excuse for this time of year and having a longstanding emotional allergy to tents, a night at The Slade Rooms complete with weather proof roof over my head, is looking to pretty much be my idea of heaven!

With doors opening at 7pm and five bands on tonight’s line up, time was prime and first band on stage were At The Mercy. This four piece band, originate from round and about the Cannock area and have been hitting the metal since early 2012. Looking back through their history, they’ve weathered a line up change aswell as one or two other set backs, but from where I stood tonight, these guys seemed ready to make that next step forward happen.

Bryn Sharratt - At The Mercy

Tonight’s set contained a mixture of covers along with their own original material, and choosing to bring their set to a close with the epic Metallica anthem ‘Enter Sandman’, was a great call. It’s always a pleasure to see a band starting to make their way and I look forward to the next chapter from At The Mercy.

Mitch Halden - At The Mercy

With no time wasted and a quick change over on stage, our second band up tonight were Dead Star Coalition. A new band experience for me, but a name that I’ve heard on at least one or two occasions, and given that the comment’s were all good, seeing them play tonight was certainly an interesting proposition.

Jim Witts - Dead Star Coalition

Dead Star Coalition were nothing less than great metal in motion, and packed out a sound that was both brutal and bloodthirsty in it’s delivery. Having said that, this band aren’t afraid of showing their softer side and there was one song towards the end of their set, which stood out for that reason and also for the fact that it remained equally as powerful as their harder material. Dead Star Coalition easily met my expectation and are certainly a band to look out for.

Phil Hingerty - Dead Star Coalition

Having now reached the halfway point of this evening’s intriguing shenanigans, Vandaliers took to the stage and introduced us to a slight change in this evenings musical direction. This five piece classic rocksome, have been on the West Mids music scene for a couple of years and as far as looking and sounding like a band that fits well together, these guys certainly have mastered that characteristic.

Danny Jenks - VandalierS

Not as big an audience for Vandaliers tonight as that which these guys deserve but it needs to be said that this in no way reflects upon the set that these guys delivered. With music steeped in a swell of bassy blues lines, the progressive headiness of classic rock guitar riffs and the sheer vocal disposition of the iconic 70’s, Vandaliers couldn’t really fail to capture my attention and interest. Top performance from these guy’s tonight and I hope that we’ll be seeing and hearing more from this band in the month’s to come.

Jackie Boy Sargeant - VandalierS

I’m beginning to loose count of the number of times I’ve seen our next band Fury, and with each past performance of theirs that I’ve witnessed, my like and respect for them all as both serious musicians and general all round good guys, has never failed to grow. Having made their way up from Worcester to Wolverhampton along with a small army of fusiliers, there was no shortage of Fury T Shirts to be seen in the audience and it was also pretty cool to see that some of those T Shirt wearers were of an age where they had already gone way past their bedtime!

Martin Trail - Fury

Tonight’s set list contained six songs of magnificent Fury metal but with a twist of something different at its tail. Of all the unlikely songs I’ve heard covered by bands in years gone by, Fury’s version of the infamous sea shanty ‘Drunken Sailor’ absolutely earned itself first prize in the ‘Never Saw That One Coming’ awards! Words fail me in describing how great and infectious their performance of that song was and even now when I’m sat here days later, I’m still chuckling away to myself just thinking about it. Bloodstock beckons Fury this August and if tonight was anything to go by, Derbyshire is in for a proper treat!

Julian Jenkins - Fury

With our headlining act Diamond Lil still to come, and them also being faced with the unenviable task of picking up the musical baton after what The Slade Rooms had just experienced, the change over time between these bands seemed to take a lifetime. Finally, front man Ellis Wilde took to the stage and with microphone in one hand and resolute determination in the other, Diamond Lil were unleashed with relentless velocity.

Ellis Wilde and Jamie Downes - Diamond Lil

Tonight’s set can only be described as victorious in many ways, as not only did it include several Diamond Lil essential’s including ‘Misfits Of Society’ and ‘Reach’ but we were also introduced to not one, but two new songs, which I believe to be titled ‘Mind Over Matter’ and ‘Seen It All’. Diamond Lil clearly loved being up on stage tonight, as did their audience appreciate them being there and the cheers and applause that came at the end of the set, made it quite clear to the band that there was no way they were leaving the building without an encore.

Harry Colley - Diamond Lil

Well, I certainly enjoyed my little slice of summer tonight and having experienced such a great combination of performances, I’m heading home tonight a very happy gal indeed. Bring on the next gig and another helping of rock ‘n’roll sunshine!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.