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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.

Lifer

‘Black Mountain Rising’

It’s been a long time coming people, but I’m pleased to report Lifer have come out of hibernation to gives us album number two… ‘Black Mountain Rising’ and we’ve been given an exclusive copy ahead of its release, 5th September to be precise. Although we’ve kindly been given a copy to review, we did have to promise to buy a physical copy of the album when it’s officially released, which we’ll happily do as supporting great bands like Lifer is a must, to ensure the future of the genre lives on.

Lifer - Black Mountain Rising

Although this album is four years in the making, it actually only took the band seven days to record, which begs the question, what the f**k have these wizards of sound been up too in all that time and I’ve been reliably informed “gigging” that’s what! These boys just love to rock out and with a new album on the horizon, that usually means one thing, more gigs will follow, YIPPY!!

Lifer are well-known in the underground metal community and rightfully so, as these guys are super fun off stage, but on it, their persona turns a full 180 to super serious and ultra professional! Many metal heads are already familiar with Lifer’s sound, but for those of you who are yet to discover these little red dragons from the west (Wales) if you’re a fan of bands such as Pantera and Down (where I believer the band got their name from “Lifer” featured on the album Nola) and more up-to-date bands like Orange Goblin and Planet of Zeus, then read on!

As this is an album review for Lifer, I thought it only polite to give it it’s first airing dressed only in my underwear…..for absolutely no reason whatsoever, however, in hind sight, this was probably a bad idea, as the opening track “Sorry Bloody Sorry” lures you into a false sense of security and reduces me to a quivering child hiding in a corner in no time, it’s sinister, a brown stain appears! Someone has a new effects peddle, what an opener!

What comes next “Bastard Sons of Sabbath” soon delivers a swift kick in true Lifer fashion, 100% yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for, I already know this is going to be a stonking album, all forty one minutes of it, where’s my air guitar!

There’s no let up in ferociousness where track three is concerned either, that bass line, tasty “Wired” hits home and hits hard! Strap yourselves in and scream if you wanna go faster, faster, FASTER!

Tracks “Burn Them Down”, “Cease to Exist” and “Shake With The Devil” have all seemingly been crafted with the sole intent to maim and torture the neck muscles!

Album title and track “Black Mountain Rising” continues to give you a good flogging. From what I can gather, like most countries with historic ties to England, Wales too hides a dark and shady side, which this song was inspired by. I won’t give too much away, but the clue is in the album’s artwork. As far as the track goes, it’s like climbing Snowdon with a 10 tonne weight on your back….HEAVY!

“Year Of The Hog” was released a few weeks ago, via the bands Souncloud page and is still available to listen to and I strongly advise you do so, as this track wet my appetite for more and I can assure you, this is a great track but is by no means the only great track on this album. I LOVE THIS TRACK!

As a fan of this band, for me, the stand out track on this album has to be “Words To The Wise” it’s six and a half minutes of pure genius and is like no other track Lifer have produced before. This masterclass in brutality has managed to capture that live essence they have become famous for. This Riff fuelled adrenaline pumping ride that comes in around four minutes in will make you smile from ear to ear, without running the risk of losing your legs come the live shows, I suggest setting your mast’s high, as the force created by windmilling hair will send you on a journey like no other!

Come the last track I had to lie down and let my heart rate decrease, thankfully the track titled “Diwedd” gives us a welcomed rest-bite and an opportunity to cool down. Loosely translated from Welsh to English, this track means the end, and the end it is, but this track is like a little bit of Lifer poetry! It’s almost like they’ve translated a passage from the Black Book of Carmarthen and turned it into musical form, magic!

A special mention to both the technical masters behind creating this album and they are Lifers very own Web Lifer and Tim Hamill, a mastering god, who have successfully managed to captured the true Lifer spirit and packaged it up in this album, which will no doubt feature in my Top 10 releases of 2015, already, it’s a classic!

Album: ‘Black Mountain Rising’ will be released via House of Doom Records on the 5th September 2015.

Track Order:

1. Sorrow Bloody Sorrow 2. Bastard Sons of Sabbath 3. Wired 4. Shake with the Devil 5. Words to the Wise 6. Cease to Exist 7. Year of the Hog 8. Black Mountain Rising 9. Burn Them Down 10. Diwedd

Rating 9.2/10

Review by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)