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HRH Doom vs Stoner

O2 Academy Sheffield 29th September 2019.

Well sadly, all good things must come to an end and I guess that’s true as this is the final Doom v Stoner event that HRH are putting on. It would appear that they’ve exhausted this genre and can no longer fill it with worthy bands that no ones already seen before – like Orange Goblin, who’ve headlined three out of the four events. That said, I still managed to discover some new bands today! All is not lost as it’s being replaced with Goth, which joins the ever popular Punk and Viking events to keep us entertained.

As this is the last one, I’m going to keep this short and to the point and mostly talk about the bands that blew me away on the day.

Alunah were up first and after re-discovering this lot at Uprising earlier this month, I was super excited about getting to see this band play again, on the main stage that the O2 Academy has. Although they were up first, there was a respectable crowd in attendance which was re-assuring as others had clearly made the effort to see Alunah perform. What I didn’t realise was that they only performed tracks off the current EP and the new album, although I can be forgiven for this as up until this point, I hadn’t heard the new album! Thankfully, the band have kindly given me a promo copy to listen to and trust me, it’s everything I hoped it would be! I have vowed to purchase a copy of the new album on vinyl, the splatter one hopefully so save me one for the pending tour at the end of the year, or in early 2020 please! Sure, the band are considered a doom band but this album is anything but! After getting the chance to interview the band, which you can watch here. I know they’ve purposely tried to have more fun with their latest offering, entitled ‘Violet Hour’, opting for a more bluesy tempo compared to their older material. Their gamble has paid off in my book as like the band we see before us now, it’s a new start, with new music, that’s forging a future which looks bright and promising. I’m expecting this album to catapult this band into the uppermost stratosphere, I just hope there’s still venues and events they can play at as everyone needs to check this band out!

Red Spektor followed on the main stage, with a nice long one hour set that gave them plenty of time to perform an array of music from both their back catalogue and from their yet to be released new album. It was a set we could properly immerse and lose ourselves in and transport us to a hedonistic and psychedelic world that very few bands can successfully transport us to so well! No details are available on the release of their new album but we did talk at length about it’s pending release, so if you’re a fan like we are, then check out our interview.

You could consider the first two acts as both blues/doom and psychedelic/stoner, Oak however, were full on hard hitting stoner and really woke everyone back up with their high energy, hard hitting riff machine! Their bio states they tried to sound like Kyuss, but fucked it up, that’s funny, but not nearly as funny as seeing vocalist Andy with his shirt off! Still, you could tell he couldn’t care less what I or anyone else thinks of that as he was too busy loving every minute of his time up on the main stage! I really like this band from London – Desertfest, get on these guys!

Ten Ton Slug, thankfully made the long trip over the Irish sea to entertain us today and were next up on the main stage. These guys followed on well after Oak, as they too were very energetic with some killer sludge fuelled riffs but unlike Oak, everyone’s heard of these guys which was helped largely by their triumphant performance on the Sophie Stage at Bloodstock this year! Yeah, these guys are right up there on the fucking rocks list, check um out!

Remember I said I’m still discovering bands, well Dead Witches are one such band. I’m both thankful I now have these in my life and can include their latest album ‘The Final Exorcism’ within my listening pleasure but I’m also miffed it’s taken me this long to discover them! I’ve no idea how long they’ve been around as the bands bio doesn’t tell me, although it’s not that important. I did however discover this band are also signed to the same record label ‘Heavy Psych Sounds’ as Alunah and many of the other great acts I love, so that’s exciting! Horror doom, is the genre they go by or music to dig graves to, that said, by the time their set was up, the O2 Academy literally looked like a grave yard, complete with dead bodies as everyone in attendance moshed themselves to death! I absolutely loved this band, their sound, their persona’s, as did my camera as they are very photogenic, well Soozi, their lead vocalist was as the other three were hidden in a cloud of smoke! Soozi is a born entertainer and I couldn’t help myself being hypnotised by her dance moves and her voice!

Our headliners for today and closing the final HRH Doom V Stoner was non other than Monolord, who, in my opinion, have written the best doom track EVER, entitled ‘Empress Rising’ which they played as their final song and was a fitting tribute to this genre! Although I’ve managed to catch these guys before at Desertfest back in 2016, when they opened the Sunday at KOKO, its great to see them three years on and this time headlining! Despite this being my second experience of Monolord, I do wish it was more but as they’re from Gothenburg, Sweden, they don’t venture this way too often – that needs to change, tour the UK more please guys, love you!

I’m now undecided as to what HRH events I’d like to cover in the future for music224, I’m liking the look of Vikings, which happens at the end of November and I’d love to cover HRH Metal again, early 2020 as that’s always a great event. HRH Punk also looks good too, although I’m not a punk fan but I do appreciate many of the acts that grace that genre. HRH Goths would also be a great event to attend but from a photographers perspective, stage lighting often associated with this genre can prove challenging as red light tends to be a popular choice – less smoke would be great too, although a little smoke does help to allow the colours to bleed together. Anyway, I’m rambling now but the point I’m trying to make is that HRH continue to provide some quality events throughout the year and keep our appetites for live music, wet!

Until next time, be good and look out for each other!

To see more photographs from the day, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

HRH Metal 2019

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 17th February 2019.

With the momentum from yesterday still riding high and fueling the enthusiasm for day 2, 1pm sharp saw me back over at HRH Metals Stage 3 to catch our opening Sunday band, Seven Hells. And if there was anyone still semi-conscious from the previous day, then they couldn’t possibly have stayed that way for long as Seven Hells brought down a reign of metal which was utterly immense in stature and performed with undeniable skill. This guys are certainly leaving some big footprints across the up and coming music scene and today’s set was a brilliant example of Seven Hells doing exactly that.

My next must see band on Stage 3 were Awake by Design, whose long standing presence has provided many a fan with a great live music experience and songs that stay with you long after the last note is played. The thing that I have always admired about this band, is their ability to deliver this huge melodic metal sound that just seems to thrive upon their attention to musical detail and the tireless energy that front man, Adrian Powell seems to posses never fails to breathe life into an audience. Today’s set delivered the great hope that we will be seeing more of this band in 2019 and with some new music rising up on the horizon aswell, Awake By Design look primed for a very productive year indeed.

My next pit stop was to be over on stage 1, where Fury were going down a storm – but then don’t they always! When you combine great metal with big personalities and add in a sprinkle of Va Va Voom, the outcome is something that you have to be part of and the proof of that could be heard loud and clear from the impressive size audience present. My only regret was not catching today’s set in full but I’m sure they’ll be plenty more opportunities to catch the band again live as Fury were simply born to perform.

With time marching on and stages 1 and 2 now in full swing, time became more pressing but one band that I was desperate to see today were Netherhall. Today’s set from the band marked two big occasions for the band – 1. their first time appearance at HRH Metal and 2. after having been lead vocaless for quite some time, tonight’s set would provide the debut performance of Matthew Preston in this prominent role. The progressive metal power in the music of Netherhall, always seems to capture the attention of those experiencing its presence and Matthew clearly seemed to be under that same spell too, as both vocals and music gelled superbly together.

Stage 2 was the next stop off point for me to catch local hero’s Left For Red. With their set already in full flight, it was a bit of a battle to get to the pit and one thing for sure, the HRH Metal army knows a great band when they see one. Up on stage the momentum, riffs and vibrant metal groove was running at full steam and clearly the band were enjoying performing as much as we were enjoying watching them. HRH Metal is a great ambassador for supporting the talent of up and coming bands such as Left For Red, so here’s hoping we get to see them back again for next years event – over on Stage 1.

You know when everyone who’s seen a certain band tells you how brilliant they are and every review you’ve read about them seems to hold the same opinion? Well for me, tonight was my first chance to catch THAT band live – Witch Tripper! Hailing from the Nottingham area, this hard working trio are known to never let any dust settle on one of their performances and the set they delivered over on Stage 1 was everything and more I’d hoped it would be. With endless energy, sweat and raging riffs by the bucket load, Witch Tripper certainly owned that stage and boy, did that audience love them too. Band of the day for me and an experience I can’t wait to repeat.

The remainder of my day was spent on a whistle stop tour trying to photograph as many bands as possible across all three stages – a busy day for sure but today’s line up really was quite something, as was the support and hard working endeavors of all those behind the scenes who make events like HRH Metal happen.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

HRH Metal 2019

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 16th February 2019.

Now in it’s third year, this event appears to be going from strength to strength and seems to be attracting the metal elite! Although I was only able to attend the Saturday, there was a total of 21 bands available for me to experience! Sadly, I couldn’t cover ever single one them in this review so I feel it more beneficial to pick out the bands that really impressed me, in the hope someone of influence might read this review and also appreciate the fact I’ve mentioned these bands and book them for their event or festival, because let’s face it, summer is fast approaching and there’s many events ahead of us!

The first band to really impress me were the French outfit Temnien, simply because they’re from France! This is a country not really known for its metal acts but the global success of Gojira may have sparked a metal revolution among the young men and woman, in the country? These guys pack a mighty punch, a brutal assault to the senses, which was a relentless barrage of metal – riff after metal riff! I think it’s also safe to say they enjoyed their set up on stage 3, here in Birmingham, the birth place of heavy metal!

Starting over on the main stage were Ballsdeep, with their second appearance on this stage and this tells me, they’re doing something right! Personally, I think these guys deserved to be higher up the bill than they were, as they are a quality metal act, ever professional and all round great guys, who produce great metal! Having a whole 50 minutes to impress the crowd, they did just that. If I was to ask one thing, from their up and coming new album, that they’ve recently announced, it would be to consider writing a ballad! Strange request, I know, but throughout their 50 minutes set, it was all at the same tempo and speed! Forgive me for sounding old, but as much as I love my metal, I can’t help but think of the likes of Slipknot, Metallica and even Slayer, who’ve managed to slow it down, in their own style and vary their live sets. It’s just a though lads but I do love what you do!

Internal Conflict are a band I’ve covered many times over the years, ever since their first appearance at the Intake club for a metal to the masses event, where they impressed me greatly. Since then, they’ve successfully played many great shows and many great festivals, which they greatly deserve. Between playing the first ever Uprising and seeing them here today at HRH Metal III, they’ve enrolled the services of a new (for them) drummer, the mighty Chris Bentley who I know all too well, from his days in Beholder! Cut this guy open and he would bleed metal, it’s just in his blood! His playing style has helped to solidify this band, stepping them up to a whole new level! They are now a formidable force of nature and one to be reckoned with! I’m expecting big things from this band and with the backing of the team around them, that will soon become a reality!

The next band that literally melted my face off, was Finnish band Lost Society, playing on the main stage! I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Samy, the bands lead vocalist and guitarist said this was their first time touring the UK, or it’s been a long time since their last tour! I never knew this thrash monster even existed, until today and I love my thrash! The bands energy levels were high, as was the atmosphere, before, during and after their set! They even managed to get a wall of death going! Since appearing at HRH, they’ve announced they’re to play Download festival this June, which is great for them! It might even afford the band a new pair of jeans…between them! haha!

The award for most entertaining band of the day – other than Trollfest, goes to ‘At Dawn We Attack’ as their set was absolute bonkers and very enjoyable to watch, as a spectator! Self proclaimed non photogenic metal front man Brian Hancox is anything but! What a character he is, with his dreadlocks flying through the air, whilst administering wrestling moves on a poor unsuspecting stage 3! These guys also play thrash metal, with a twist! I know our own Sue loves these guys, so for me to finally see them play live, was a real treat! Hope to see you again, this year!

The last band of the day, happen to be the final band to feature in this review/round-up from the Saturday at HRH Metal III and they were Trollfest! Many of my colleagues had asked if I’d seen them when they played at Hammerfest on the Mash & Barrel stage, which unfortunately I hadn’t, but they all said how much fun this band are. During my research on the band, I noticed they only sing in their native Norwegian language, which did put me off a little bit! When they took to the stage though, any preconceived notions I’d had of the band disappeared amid the chaos and mayhem that is Trollfest! Lead singer Trollmannen, greeted us as Her Majesty’s Royal Metal Festival and gradually introduced us to the, now known as fairies, within the band, but on the day, I thought were dressed up as Disney princesses, as he was dressed up as a king, his crown being the largest balloon head piece, I’ve ever seen, which kept falling off! If entertainment, during a live show, is your thing, then these guys are the band for you!

As ever, many thanks to the team that makes up the HRH family. It was great to meet Toby as well, who takes over Claire’s role although it was sad not to see her here this weekend! Until the next one, stay metal and crazy for that matter!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins.