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HRH METAL O2 Birmingham Day Two.


HRH METAL O2 Birmingham Day Two.

Today was going to be slightly different less death and black metal and concentrating on the prog thrash and grunge type stuff, which for this old dinosaur was just fine by me.

The first three bands, same as yesterday, were playing on the best of Brum Stage 2 and kicked off with Devils Playground: this local six piece Birmingham band combine dual male and female vocalists. The original girl Leanne was being replaced today but the mix of the female goth type Evanescence voice and the black metal screams of the guy really worked well. During the set they had a power failure but it didn’t bother them and they spent the time chatting and laughing with the crowd until it got sorted. Formed in 2015 they have played Bloodstock Open Air plus Download and the Bulldog Bash and have supported among others GraVil, their influences range from Hatebreed and Trivium to Bullet for my Valentine and Five Finger Death. I really enjoyed their unique style and sound.

Second band of the day Incinery: this four piece Nottingham band are a mixture of early 80s thrash and death metal vocals, all I could understand were the expletives im afraid, but the crowd seemed to enjoy them, you can see a big Sepultura Slipnot influence and they are getting a large following around the midlands metal scene but they didn’t do it for me I’m afraid.

Over to the band I saw at Hard Rock Hell in Wales on a smaller stage last year heavy stoner rockers Fire Red Empress: the sound let them down that night and I wasn’t too impressed but this was the main stage and they were kicking off the proceedings. Fronted by French singer Jennifer Diehl formerly of Paris heavy rockers Furykane, in October they released their debut album Black Morphine with a track on it co written by Brian Tatler of Diamond Head fame. She ran on stage full of energy and the minute she started singing and the band played I knew this was going to be a different performance. With her mixture of screams and melodic vocals she lit the stage up with her charisma and I was surprised to see the poor crowd reaction and it was some time before Jen could get the crowd to really apprecate their sound but when they did she had them for the rest of the set in the palm of her hands, really pleased I saw them again on the bigger stage.

I went back to stage two to catch the start of The Mighty Wraith’s set, to be met by this beast of a lead singer Matt Gore filling the stage with a heavy leather jacket on, sweating for England under the lights and wearing the shiniest black leather gloves but what a personality! Local Birmingham lads formed in 2012 play power metal with attitude and with the comedic banter of Matt they soon had the crowd head banging and singing, and I actually saw a tiny mosh pit forming. I was glad to catch them and would like to see a full set by them on a bigger stage.

Next up on the main stage were East Anglian band Kaine. I have seen these guys perform at a smaller local festival to me Sixfields, and was looking forward to seeing them again here at HRH Metal. Formed in 2009 inflences range from Black Sabbath, Metallica and all of the NWOBHM bands and they have been lucky enough to have shared the stage with many of them, such as Diamond Head, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Praying Mantis. All the styles are there in their blistering performance but also brought together with a modern slant. The band are Rage Sadler on lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, Chris Mackinnon, drums, who not only writes some songs he does backing vocals while bashing on the skins, Saxon Davids rhythm and lead guitar, and Stephen Ellis bass, the hall was packed and Rage was overwhelmed stating “we’re used to playing to thirty people this is amazing it means so much to us”. They play with style and passion and deserve all the fan base they have amassed

I left Kaine as I wanted to catch the next local band in stage two Trivax as I had heard whispers about them throughout the day. They describe themselves as Chaotic Satanic black death metal, and totally fucked up and want their music to hurt you, interesting I thought. Holy shit when I heard and saw them dressed in hoods and black face make up I didn’t know if they were going to sing or have a black mass right there on stage, out of the shores of Iran and Birmingham they do songs of world destruction and satanic magic and after two songs I was freaked out enough to slowly leave and get back out to normality. If you like your music dark, black, and evil, then go and see these guys but don’t bring any animals with you they might just sacrifice them

I went back to see the end of Kaine’s set, then it was time to head up to the medium stage one where the first band of the day were Lifer: this five piece band from Swansea play what I would call black grungy thrash metal, although at times the singer would slip between a black metal screech to a really nice melodic voice which myself I would have liked to have heard more of, but that’s just me. Good fast guitar work, great pedal work on the drums and the crowd although not huge were enjoying themselves.

Next on the main stage was Power Quest: a Southampton power metal/prog six piece formed in 2001 by keyboardist Steve williams they have been through many line up changes and in 2013 split up completely only to reappear with a brand new line up in 2016. They play 80s style heavy metal with speed guitar riffs, melodic keyboards, and powerful vocals from Ashley Eddison. Now heres the problem with me: they don’t have the personality or style of the likes of Nightwish, Sabaton, Helloween, Manowar, and all the other power metal heroes and after a while I began to get bored expecting just a little bit more but it didn’t come. I went to get some food and have a look around as they weren’t really rocking my world. .

Coming up next were Italian folk/power metal band Elvenking, these guys have been through an incredible number of band changes over the years for different reasons and to date have released nine albums, they play an amazing mixture of different metal genres: symphonic, pop, prog, classical and folk and give an incredible performance, dressed like woodland sprites or something out of Grimms fairy tales with black makeup across their eyes the personnas and energy they enthuse on stage makes this band one of a kind. The second they come on stage they hit you with fast riffs and then suddenly change into violin or folk: you don’t know what you’re going to get next with this band! but whatever it is it is all done with passion and excellence. Formed in 1997 and with Davide (Damma) Moras their charismatic singer with excellent vocals and forever encouraging the crowd, whether it be hand claps raising hands or just joining in, he is an incredidble front man but not taking anything away from the rest of the band comprising of Ayden guitars, Rafahel guitars, Jakob bass, Lethian violin,and finally Lancs on drums they all contribute their unique style, and without a doubt this was the band of the night and up there with one of the best of the weekend. I look forward to seeing them again in the future either on tour or a festival.

After that amazing set by the Elvens I was ready for some good ol school metal so off I went to stage two to see Scotland’s Attica Rage, formed in Glasgow in 2003 by drummer Richie Rage and his younger brother Johnny Parr vocals /guitar, since 2006 due to a heavy commitment of touring these guys have been headliners all over Europe and even Slovenia. They have supported many bands including Black Label Society, Saxon, and Armoured Saint and have played an array of festivals both here and abroad they play no nonsense metal with attitude and not surprsingly the place was packed out to see them .2018 is a decade since they released their debut album Ruin Nation, but it wasn’t all to be celebrations as they announced after eleven years their guitarist Steve Bell was leaving the band to do other things and you could see the sadness in the rest of the guys faces and Johnny Parr especially who gave Steve a massive hug . The set consisted of numbers from all of their four albums but the place went mental when they ended the set as a tribute to the much missed Lemmy and played an awesome rendition of Overkill.

Final main stage festival headliners were German power/speed metal legends Gravedigger, when I returned the venue was half empty. It seemed a lot had headed home. I was having trouble standing much longer and the other final band in stage two were up the long staircase so that wasn’t going to happen. I headed slowly up the smaller stairs to the balcony to see Diggers set. There were lots of vacant seats so it looked like this band weren’t going to have a big crowd for them. Formed in early 1980, having read that this band have been know to invite fans on stage with them as they did at Wacken in 2010 and the amazing chemistry this band had with them I was really looking forward to seeing them. Now I don’t know if it was the shock of seeing how empty the venue now was or what? but I couldn’t see any real chemistry throughout their set which was to be an hour and a half long, apart from the obvious Gravedigger fans at the front of stage and a few others scattered here and there frontman Chris Boltendahl struggled getting a crowd reaction thoughout and you could see his frustration on stage which impaired his and the band’s performance. Sorry guys but it wasn’t a fantastic show tonight and after a while there seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm from you all. The best thing about your set was the humorous grim reaper on keys complete with moving mouth.

Before I go my partner photographer LadyGigger, once again got to see some noticable bands I didn’t and has relayed some imformation about a couple, one being Torous a local rock band who announced when they first played the O2 Academy they had to get the bus complete with amps, and nothing had changed this time so this was to be their final gig ever as they were calling it a day.

And the one band I really regretted not seeing , the last band on stage one Footprints In The Custard, “are you ready for this”!!!, they sing extreme filthy songs, the guitarist stripped half way through the set to reveal a mankini (it’s true, check out photos on Jace Media) singer wore striped over the knee socks and a purple tutu, and a lot of the crowd were waving inflatable penisis. And she only came in half way through their set so god only knows what other crazy shit they did, I seriously want to catch these guys sometime.

So there you have it dudes and dudettes a weekend of non-stop music and fun once again courtesy of the hard working HRH crew.

Here’s to next year.

Review by Dave Martin & all pictures by Carol Henson aka LadyGigger.


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