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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

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 28th May 2016.

Tonight’s Hils Ovation gig has the making of a rather spectacular night, with performances lined up from Netherhall, Pelugion, Martyr De Mona and the remarkable Fire Red Empress – and you couldn’t want for much more than that!

Netherhall were our first band of the night and for me, this was a much anticipated experience as I had yet to see them perform live. With the band comprising of two former members of Glassbullet, I was holding my breath as to whether or not I would feel their evolution and for the first ten seconds I did have doubts, but those doubts were quickly erased as not only did they look different but they sounded different aswell. Netherhall’s sound is still heavy but with a deeper emotive edge to it that on occasion sent my mind reminiscing back to the classic strains of Robert Miles and never in a million years would I have expected that! Am I excited about what the future holds for Netherhall – yes, I certainly am as there is something very special emerging here and I can’t wait to see where it takes them!

Paul Berry - Netherhall

It’s been way too long since I last saw Pelugion and shame on me for that but tonight’s set was well worth the wait, as their performance was as wild and untamed as I’d hoped it would be. With their track ‘Serpent’s Mistress’ being a particular favourite of mine due to it’s mesmerizing guitar riffs and the brazen vocals of Andy Sweeney, I was pretty chuffed to hear it played in the bands set tonight. It was also particularly cool and pretty brave of the band to include a cover version of Megadeth’s ‘Symphony Of Destruction’ which was just about ten minutes old but then that’s Pelugion for you – fearless and creative to the point of no holds barred.

Andy Sweeney - Pelugion

Our penultimate band for tonight were Martyr de Mona who have been very firm favorites of the Midlands metal scene for a fair few years now but even with that degree of familiarity for regular gig goers, these guys always deliver a set second to none.

Josh Wooldridge - Martyr de Mona

Tonight’s performance at the O2 was indeed outstanding with the energy both on and off stage radiating an atmosphere that was nothing short of exceptional and the kind of experience that you really don’t want to end. You can catch Martyr de Mona at several great events over the forthcoming summer months, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for all the latest updates.

Louis Hale - Martyr De Mona

Time certainly is flying by for Fire Red Empress with it only being a matter of six short months since Jen Diehl made her debut appearance in the band at last years Midlands Metal Crusade and already Fire Red Empress have a new album which is just about ready for launching. Tonight’s set promised the opportunity to hear a host of new material from it along with a few firm favorites and for me, that was something not to be missed!

Ben Picken - Fire Red Empress

With the stage swathed in fiery red lights, the band were welcomed onto the stage loudly by the audience of a pretty packed out O2 Academy3 and what then followed was a completely addictive set that was nothing short of compelling to see and hear. This band have never lacked in the stage presence department but with Jen Diehl’s character, confidence and vocal ability truly shinning through, I can wholehearted predict that Fire Red Empress are destined for many great things yet to come.

Jen Diehl - Fire Red Empress

I left the O2 Academy3 tonight feeling like I had just witnessed something quite special, as not only had the bands given 110% but there was an atmosphere of excitement in the room which had rolled out across the audience and band members alike. And that my friend, is exactly what the thrill of live music is all about!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Twisted Ninja Presents

 The Haygate Wellington Friday 29th April 2016.

This Bank Holiday weekend see’s The Haygate in Wellington Telford, playing host to a monumental gathering of rock and metal bands all intent on supporting the good cause of three upstanding charities all of whom make a difference to the lives of so many, on a daily basis. The charity of choice for Friday was the Compton Hospice who have been a key figure for the past thirty years in providing much cherished support to those with life limiting illnesses and also to their families, during such difficult times.

Compton Hospice.

And getting tonight’s event well underway were the up and coming Birmingham based band, Devil’s Playground. It’s only been a matter of a few weeks since this band held their debut launch at the O2 Academy in Birmingham and already they’re making a clear headway in the popularity stakes and with a great catalogue of songs already to their name, it isn’t difficult to understand why!

Leanne Nardone - Devil's Playground

Quiet The Thief are another band who have been making a great name for themselves and with tonight’s set giving us an opportunity to hear a track or two off their forthcoming album, I suspect that there will be plenty more good things to look forward to from this band. Make sure to check them out over on Facebook for all their latest news.

Gareth Harding - Quiet The Thief

The midway point of the evening was marked by a band that are definitely no strangers to the West Midlands metal scene, with that band being Our World Below? Tonight’s set from the band was blissfully intense with Dave Riley delivering a vocal performance and presence that was all consuming to witness. We also have a new EP on the horizon from Our World Below? so that will definitely be something not to miss!

Dave Riley and Neil Preece - Our World Below

With a fair size audience now in attendance our penultimate band of the evening, Eradikator, took to the stage. It’s been a pretty epic week for these guys with the launch of their new and much anticipated video for ‘Man Behind The Mask’, and I have to say this track really does harness the brutal energy and blistering guitar work that Eradikator always deliver live – so make sure to check it out folks.

Pat Cox - Eradikator

Friday’s headlining band were the mighty Martyr de Mona, and these guys are always an absolute pleasure to see live. With several years of great metal tucked firmly under their belts, tonight’s set was pure class with songs such as ’Siege Mentality’ going down a storm. And for those of us eager for a repeat live performance, get the 25th May down in your diaries as you can catch Martyr De Mona back on stage at the O2 Academy3 in Birmingham.

Josh Wooldridge - Martyr De Mona

Tonight most certainly marked a great start to this Charity Weekender and with two more days to go and a host of great bands still yet to play – it ain’t over yet folks!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.