Tag Archives: midlands metal crusade

Hils Ovation

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 28th January 2017.

Oktopus with support from Netherhall, Brocken Spectre and Sonata Fall. It seems like January 2017 has been an exceptionally long month, so to say I’m just a little bit happy to be heading off to the first Hils Ovation gig of the year, is most definitely an understatement!

And what a little gem tonight’s gig looks set to be as it’s line up offers an intriguing mix of bands both known and previously unknown to me and that definitely warrants a big thumbs up in my book.

Getting tonight underway were Sonata Fall and it quickly became apparent that tonight’s set was to hold great meaning, with this being Simon Tranter’s last gig with the band. Ramped with a profusion of intense guitar licks combined with the rich vocals of Justin Reeves, tonight’s set hit gold for the band and albeit an emotive end to this particular chapter in their career, it delivered one hell of a great promise for the next one!

Simon Tranter - Sonata Fall

Our next set of the night was from the Hereford based band Brocken Spectre and hand on heart, these guys stand in a league of their own! For any band whose music is progressive and purely instrumental, there is a need for that music to completely set the scene and the aura of Brocken Spectre was nothing short of mesmerising! Individually, the level of ability possessed by Phil Rochard (Guitar), Jordan Payne (Drums) and Duncan Edwards (Bass) warrants the title of virtuoso and when collectively delivered in a setting such as this, the best description I can give is to say that this was one of the most awesome live master classes I’ve ever seen.

Duncan Edwards - Brocken Spectre

It has been way too long since I last saw the fantastic band Netherhall, and after watching their set tonight and reflecting back upon that last previous performance, as good as they had been then, their evident evolution over the past twelve months is nothing short of spectacular. The guitar work of Tom Bushell has always been charismatic in both its delivery and content and with Tom positioned pretty much centre stage tonight, I felt that this really brought to the forefront, the immense passion and intelligence that lies within Netherhall’s sound. Netherhall will be back in Birmingham again on the 19th Feb at The Hammer & The Anvil, so give yourself a treat and get yourself along there to see them.

Tom Bushell - Netherhall

Our headliners for tonight were the Birmingham based band Oktopus, who’ve been playing together since 2014 and comprise of Alistair Bell (Vocals/Guitar), Tim Wilson (Drums/Vocals) and Sam Roberts (Bass).

Sam Roberts - Oktopus

Given that I’ve not seen Oktopus play live before and had only heard snippets of their songs, I don’t think I was fully prepared for the experience of their set tonight – and what a truly amazing set it was! The style and progressive sound that Oktopus deliver is fresh, vibrant and through the sheer excellence of the bands ability, they breath the kind of life into their songs that you don’t tend to come across that often.

Alistair Bell - Oktopus

Highlight of their set for me, was the performance of ‘Worlds Apart’ which also happens to be the title of their debut album aswell.

Tonight’s gig certainly blew away those January cobwebs and left me heading for home, one very happy gal indeed!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

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.

Midlands Metal Crusade V

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton.

Today marks the occasion of the Midlands Metal Crusade V returning to Wolverhampton and at 3.30pm sharp, our first band of the day took to the stage.

Toward The Grave looked like a band well happy to be here and played a great set that was laden with brutal guitar riffs and the savage vocals of Russ Snipe. I greatly admire this band for consistently combining so many aspects of the metal genre and creating a style that has both darkness and groove within its core. No doubt about it at all, Toward The Grave gave the early crowd a first rate start to the day.

Next band up were Slaughter Horse and these guys were one of the must see bands of the day for me. Sadly, they were one man down with Jim Chilton being absent from the stage, but it was still game on for the band with Craig Keating picking up the vocals and keeping their set as ferocious as ever. Next date in the diary for the Slaughter Horse is 29th January when they will be supporting Evil Scarecrow back here at the Slade Rooms – and what a night that is guaranteed to be!

Craig Keating - Slaughter Horse

With the audience well ready for more, the third band of today were Our World Below? and with these guys being no strangers to the local metal scene, there was a fair size fan base waiting to greet them. Today’s set from the band was one of the best performances I’ve seen them deliver, with the vocals of Dave Riley exceeding already high expectations. I’m really liking the current line up of the band which now seems like their best fit ever, so roll on many more gigs in 2016!

Another band on my must see list for today – and also on that of quite a few others were Fire Red Empress, as this was to be the first live performance for Jennifer Diehl who has recently taken on lead vocal duties for the band. Seeing and hearing Jennifer own those well known and much loved Fire Red Empress songs today, confirmed my hope that this will be the beginning of a new dimension for the band and I cannot wait to hear what comes out of the recording studio next year!

Jennifer Diehl - Fire Red Empress

The half way point of the day heralded the onset of Eradikator’s set and no doubt about it at all, these guys were on top form as their metal was certainly molten tonight. With their new album ‘Edge of Humanity’ receiving some very positive reviews, their performance served to justifiably confirm those views and for those who didn’t get to see them today or simply want to see them again, Eradikator will be hosting a Launch Party at the O2 Academy 3 on Saturday 23rd January 2016!

Patrick Cox - Eradikator

Next up on stage were Burden Of The Noose and undoubtably, this band never fail to execute one of the most intense live performances to be experienced. Lead singer Andy Barraclough is a master of menace on stage with his never ending corrosive gaze deftly underpinning the ferocity of his vocals and always serving to compliment this bands musical brutality. An excellent set from the band tonight.

Gehtika are a band who need very little introduction as their ostentatious stage presence and extravagant metal is well known and well loved by many. Tonight’s set included several tracks from their recently released album ‘A Monster In Mourning’ and in true Gehtika style combined with the spirit of expect the unexpected, their was a spot of onstage appreciation from a fan too!

Topher O'Meager - Gehtika

Our penultimate band for this evening were The Heretic Order and after seeing them at a previous Crusade, this band have grown to become a firm favourite of mine. Tonight’s set from them was loaded with atmosphere and a good helping of audience participation aswell and for me, their set was over way too fast. With a new tour in the planning for next year, The Heretic Order are facing a busy 2016, so do check out their forthcoming dates as these guys are well worth the price of a ticket!

Lord Ragnar Wagner - The Heretic Order

One thing that every Crusade always delivers, is a headlining band guaranteed to surpass expectations and this Crusade was to be no different, with non other than Raging Speedhorn set to raise the Slade Rooms roof tonight. With the stage undergoing the required transformation, the audience numbers swelled but given this bands popularity and long standing achievements, that was only to be expected. Nothing was held back from the band or from the audience either as their set got underway and it really was a performance that put the hard in hardcore!

Frank Regan - Raging Speedhorn

Today’s crusade lacked for nothing apart from the unavoidable absence of Hils Ovation however the Slade Rooms raised a glass or two in appreciation of all Hils’ hard work and for making this great event happen.

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.