M2TM Manchester 2023 – Heat 6 The Rebellion, Manchester 19/02/2023 Review by Rob Sutton
So on paper this heat was by far and away the toughest heat and by the sheer number of people that turned up in support also shows that these bands are among the most popular in the competition.
Hitting the stage first was Destroy Planets who have recently promoted their bassist to frontman which has given the band a very different sound vocally than before, although I didn’t manage to watch them previously. Now these guys are very much in the metalcore genre, one which is absolutely flooded with bands these days so personally I’m looking for something a bit different and Destroy Planets do deliver on this. There is a great use of backing tracks and samples within the songs which portray a more dancey side to the genre and this is met with some really interesting rap/screams which to me are insanely cool and performed perfectly. In fact the screams and growls in general are really fucking good, though for some of the lower growls he does cup the mic leading to a bit of feedback. The singing though is lacking a bit, with some parts a little flat and sounding almost forced so this didn’t do anything for me. Musically these guys are tight as fuck and throw that in with lots of movement on stage and a lot of banter they’ve set the bar high for the night – this includes pits straight off the bat. What can I say? This set was really enjoyable and I wanted another song… Oh they had about 4 minutes left of a set… Could have done one more… Never mind at least it wasn’t over their allotted time. I still wanted more!
Technologist return to the competition after making it to the semi finals last year and begin… Well, very nervously and almost unprepared. They have this wonderful intro but while it’s playing they’re all standing around not really doing anything. Guys, why not walk on stage to the intro? Would look so much better than the awkward as fuck start. OK music time! Technologist kick in like they had done in previous events with their incredibly tight take on progressive death metal and the crowd love it, massive cheers after each song and they respond to everything that’s asked of them. I do really love this band, the way they flick from aggression to technical beauty is such a skill that so few bands can pull off and the guitars absolutely make this! Yes the solos may not be as stand out as last week but they’re subtle and slot right into their overall sound perfectly. Vocally as with Destroy Planets, growls are incredible and have an impressive amount of power but some of the singing again is a little flat (although the harmonies do work really well) and the shouts get completely lost in the mix. Before the last song we are introduced to the band, something I get and understand but with the style of music Technologist play this really could have been done during the last song. Oh and again these guys were under by 4 minutes, if they had cut out the chatter before the last song we could have had another and I would have really liked another song as the performance was simply stunning!
Another new band for me was Felicia and I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to expect as we have a frontwoman dressed in a business suit, an 8 string guitar, 4 string bass and a huge kit… then as the set starts we have a strip show? (Don’t worry it wasn’t down to bare skin). This is certainly new for me at one of these. So strip show aside the music is definitely reminiscent of KoRn or Deftones but for me this screams Marilyn Mason! Felicia’s musical style is definitely something that isn’t heard too often these days and again is performed really well, perhaps not as tight as the other bands but for me the focus is definitely more on the performance as opposed to the music so this isn’t a huge deal. Though I will say the drums are absolutely fantastic, the beats are brilliant and the fills are sublime and really are a highlight of this set. The guitars are a little quiet and sometimes muddy, while the riffs are played well they do lack punch for me. Vocally there is a massive mix of styles from rapping, singing to screaming. I love the rappy bits and the screams are also performed with a good amount of power and control but the singing again isn’t the best with a few flat notes and sometimes they too get lost in the mix. Now a few weeks ago there were a lot of technical issues which led to a band falling to pieces. Tonight Felicia also were met with technical difficulties but instead of stopping songs or looking confused they powered through their set like professionals. Even more credit as in a competition this could really knock their confidence but they didn’t let it bother them! I must say I enjoyed this show, it’s different and very entertaining. It’s a performance I would love to catch again!
Last to take the stage was 40,000 Leagues, a band I have seen on many occasions and do usually enjoy. So was tonight any different? No! They hit the stage in fine bouncy fashion, completely owning the stage. The guitar work is absolutely on point with the solos being a real highlight. Although one of the dual solos did have a strange sound, whether this was the wrong pedal hit I’m not sure but it did sound a bit like bagpipes… Still, their crossover from old school metal with the newer feel of metalcore works perfectly with the vocal range being another highlight of this performance. Definitely some of the best clean vocals I’ve heard in this competition. Throughout the set there is plenty of crowd participation and even the trademarked story time with all the crowd sitting down. 40k also ended up being the first band I actually got in a pit to and had a proper mosh and that in itself is a testament to how much I enjoyed their set and I don’t think I need to say more than that!
This heat was seriously good, every band brought their A game and had they not all been in the same heat, should have progressed into the next round. Alas, only 2 can go through and the crowd chose Technologist with the judges choosing 40,000 Leagues. I can’t argue with this as any 2 of the 4 bands would be worthy winners tonight and I have my suspicion that the wild cards could be used on this event. To put it bluntly, this was good enough to have been the final!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
M2TM Manchester 2023 – Heat 5 Rebellion, Manchester 12/02/22 Live Review by Rob Sutton
I’ve done enough of these now to bother with an intro so let’s just go straight into the first competing band, Wailing Banshee. These guys have recently acquired a new vocalist which I would love to compare to the last one but I’ve never seen them before. Either way these guys (and girl) kicked off in fine fashion, pouncing straight into the first song after some immediate crowd pumping – exactly what you would expect from a heavy metal/heavy rock band. Their style leans towards that of Iron Maiden crossed with Judas Priest in my eyes, with the guitar work particularly fitting of this style providing some very nice riffs and soaring solos to match. Couple that with some pounding drums and brilliant bass lines and you get an idea what’s going on here. On stage there was a lot of movement from all members, (even the drummer!) as well as plenty of crowd interaction. The stage presence here was so much better than the previous 2 events and honestly I breathed a sigh of relief. Now vocally is also where these guys shine. For the most part she hit all her notes and had a good amount of power, even doing a raw scream on the final number which just shows her brilliant control and emotion while she performed. Honestly this was a fantastic performance and one on paper I wasn’t that hyped about but live, blew me away!
I Am The Wreckage are a band I have reviewed a number of times and I have come to know exactly what to expect from them. The banners on stage really did give a professional look to them and the addition of an intro track also meant they walked on stage to thunderous cheers before bouncing straight into 2 brand new songs. A risk but one that was worth taking. The rest of the set followed this great start with tons of energy on stage, mainly the bassist doing his usual parkour around the stage and the guitarist having a wander into the crowd. Their engagement was again spot on, hyping the crowd and encouraging pits, which they get throughout their set. From a performance side, everything was pretty good too, with only a couple of missed notes and beats but this is hardcore so being clinical didn’t matter to me. Where I felt a little meh was the new songs as they didn’t really sound like anything new for them. Still I guess don’t fix something that isn’t broken so I can’t take that as a mark down when the performance was this good.
Two bands in and already I was in a good mood as it seems this heat had a lot more going for it than some of the others, which left third band The Feral Kings with their work cut out. Straight off their take on heavy rock worked well and was performed to another very high standard. Their set is tight, with some really good riffs and solos again as well as some chunky bass lines. Drums were also really strong keeping the whole set very head-bangable (think I just made up a word). The thing that was lacking over the previous two bands was the stage show, while there was some crowd interaction the actual stage presence was minimal to non-existent with most members just stood playing, leaving only the singer’s minimal movements and the lead guitarist’s slight showing off during the solos. In my opinion this got a little boring and I did find myself zoning out multiple times during the set. That’s not me saying they performed badly, in fact quite the opposite as vocally as well, there were some lovely notes hit and some great harmonies in the backings but I could have just listened to a recording.
With such a strong night so far that left Chrysalid with even more work to do. Again these guys were another unknown to me and with a very nice played intro featuring a fair few drum rolls before the vocalist takes to the stage to greet the crowd they kick into the first song with… wait for it… more drum rolls… There were more drum rolls at the beginning of this set than a marching band (had to put that in)! After that though we were treated to some good old heavy metal with a vocal range reminiscent of Merciful Fate and it’s marvellous! The notes this guy hits does send shivers down your spine and then we get more stunning solos and over the top fills throughout the set. This did tick all the boxes when it comes to a good heavy metal show including their crowd engagement, thus getting pits and also introducing the band individually, which was a nice touch. A slight thing that bugged me was when the sound tech nearly played the wrong intro to a song the singer was a bit snappy with him which didn’t look good, however I will say that this should have been sorted during the 30 minute changeovers we had or even do it yourself rather than relying on the sound tech. Aside from this, Chrysalid played a blinder of a set as well and are definitely a band that any heavy metal fan should get on!
So after all that we finally had a really strong heat, something which I was waiting for over the last few weeks and all the bands really stepped it up. So on crowd vote was I Am The Wreckage which was no surprise and the judges’ was The Feral Kings? Ey? Don’t get me wrong, they did play well but there wasn’t a stage show and to me Wailing Banshee and Chrysalid brought the music and the stage show. I must be missing something here…
Commiserations to both Chrysalid and Wailing Banshee as I personally believe both bands were worthy of going through. I hope to see them both again.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Esprit D’Air (with support from Nebulesse) Rebellion, Manchester 03/08/22 Live Review by Laura Barnes
Now, prior to this night I hadn’t been to a gig in what feels like an agonizingly long time, so allow me to self-indugently set the scene here. It is a scorching Tuesday evening in Manchester. The streets are busy with jolly day-drinkers making the most of lingering sun. Outside of the Rebellion bar stands a small queue, in which people of all ages, genders and subcultures mingle excitedly as they wait for the doors to open. Rebellion is exactly the kind of venue I was craving: all wood-chipped and sticky-floored with just a tad of peeling fluorescent paint. It is also an intimate venue: perfect for a night like this one.
Manchester locals Nebulesse were the first and only support act, and boy-oh-boy do they do their job with gusto. Nebulesse play what can best be described as noughties style alt-rock, but my more creative description is this: emo with a deliciously spicy kick. Being a support act can be challenging, especially when playing to a fanbase as dedicated as Esprit D’Air’s – more on this later – but Nebulesse handled this challenge with ease, winning the crowd over in what felt like an instant. If there were any doubters, they were soon silenced by Nebulesse’s rousing cover of My Chemical Romance’s ‘House of Wolves’. A special mention must be made here to Nebulesse’s absolutely electric frontwoman Pix, who commanded the crowd in an authentic and characteristically Northern way. By the end of their set, people were enthusiastically singing along to the anthemic ‘No More Waiting’. Nebulesse aren’t just a band that give you a good bloody show, but are also one you would happily grab a pint with at the end of the night. I recommend you check them out sooner than later; they are one to watch.
With the band all fired up, it was time for Esprit D’Air themselves. Esprit D’Air, it seems, are suckers for a dramatic entrance – one by one the band members enter the stage to rapturous applause, accompanied by the cinematic ‘Into The Oceans’ intro track. The biggest cheer arose when frontman Kai arrived. Dressed in loose black robes and silver jewelry, he looked like a very joyous grim reaper. And that joy was infectious! Although Esprit D’Air’s music is emotive and has a strong focus on personal struggles, there was something euphoric about the whole night. It is rare for a band to enjoy performing as much as the crowd enjoys watching, but this gig saw the band and the crowd feeding each other’s excitement until it filled the entire room. Esprit D’Air played a very no-nonsense set; the focus was very clearly on the music, with only brief introductions to their hits. Such a focus really allowed for their musicianship to shine. The killer drum solo in the first half of the set was the perfect way to keep the crowd on their toes, and set the live Esprit D’Air experience apart from the studio album experience. Likewise, within the dark walls of Rebellion, the guitar solos were much larger and more powerful than on the albums. Free from glossy production, Esprit D’Air unleashed their full potential. It was delightful.
Another special mention here must go out to the fans. Gigs are always places of camaraderie and friendship, but Esprit D’Air have fostered a whole community of fans. People who had only ever spoken on the dedicated fan Discord server met each other for the first time, exchanging gifts and hugs aplenty. Half the crowd already seemed to know each other, and the other half all made friends over the course of the show. Gigs are life-affirming events, and as frontman Kai serenaded the crowd with ‘Guiding Light’ I remembered why I had missed them so much.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
M2TM Manchester 2022 – Grand Final Rebellion – Manchester 14/5/22 Review by Rob Sutton Photos by Drew Scott
Guest bands: Foetal Juice Footprints in the Custard The Crawling Saurr
Competing bands: I Am The Wreckage Portrayal of Ruinn Vlka Fenryka Asylum City Zoo
We made it to the final! It has been a long journey for Manchester with the sheer volume of bands entering, and the calibre of bands being so high this year it has been a tough one. For the final, the 0161 crew went all out by adding 5 guest bands! First up was Acoustic Beast but with them only playing a handful of covers I didn’t see much point in writing about them (sorry, covers aren’t my thing).
The first guest band was a band I have been itching to catch all year, Saurr. For whatever reason every time I was due to see them, either I got the plague or they did. Thankfully this was not the case this time around and the former M2TM Manchester winners were here in full force. Saurr are one of these bands that mix numerous genres together, there is a lot of Groove, a bit of Sludge, bits of Metalcore, bits of Djent… you get the idea. All these are blended together beautifully to create something that feels so heavy and powerful; the riffs are just phenomenal and backed with thumping drums, these guys instantly get the crowd’s heads bobbing. To break up these incredible riffs, some atmospheric guitar interludes appear, which are stunning to watch, and what makes it even better is that, even though there are backing tracks, the lead guitar is being played live! Honestly, this guitarist is a boss! Vocally as well these guys are strong, the harsh vocals cut through perfectly and really add to the all round heaviness, however while the cleans are being done, over the distorted guitars, they are sometimes a little lost. That being said these guys kicked off the day in fine fashion and set the benchmark for the competing bands that follow.
Speaking of competing bands, I am the Wreckage drew the short straw and were the first on. Straight off the bat, what happened to the sound? Saurr sounded huge, but the power just vanished for these guys, as well as the following 2 bands. This is something that has been noticed in a few heats – the fact the sound is inconsistent for the competing bands, and this is a worry. Also, I will note as well, whoever is doing the lights only seems to put effort in towards the end of the night… C’mon, this is a competition – play fair! Anyway, rant over! I am the Wreckage blasted straight onto the stage and made it theirs from the get go, they commanded the crowd perfectly and boy did they respond! The pits were mega and the circle pits were like fairground rides with the speed they were spinning. Previously I have commented that the guitar tone has been muddy and inaudible, but tonight it was crystal clear and sounded amazing. For that matter they all did; they perfectly encapsulated the essence of Hardcore and brought it forefront here. It’s really hard to find much wrong with this set… I mean there were a few missed notes but they weren’t that noticeable, and the bassist was wearing an I am the Wreckage t-shirt which annoys me. Actually on that point, why do bands do this? This would work if they all had their own t-shirts on, but they didn’t so it looks a bit… full of yourself. These are minor points though in what I thought was an incredibly strong set, which probably made the rest of the competing bands have to use the lavatory.
The crowd were in their masses for I am the Wreckage, but they thinned dramatically for Asylum City Zoo. This was strange, as these guys are not short on their online following or presence in the Manchester scene, but this might have something to do with their lack of energy. Normally these guys are full of beans however here perhaps the nerves got the better of them. ACZ do have songs which are at a much slower tempo than that of IATW, but this doesn’t mean they’re any better nor worse. In fact the vocal harmonies present are stunning! They really ‘hit you in the feels man.’ Top this with some interesting vocal effects and it’s an all round intriguing watch and an enjoyable one at that. Also something of note as per the previous sound comment, the kick drum was punching right through in the mix for these guys and sounded brilliant. The drummer was on point in timing along with the rest of the band, too – this was a tight set. I also appreciated the give always they do during their set; it’s a nice bit of giving something back to the crowd. Asylum City Zoo did play a very strong set, but their lack of energy and lack of really pumping the crowd let it down. Shame as musically this was tight!
Time for a raid! Viking shields adorned the stage, fur coats, blue battle paint, axes, swords and horns were all being waved around while the whole crowd began to chant… This can mean only one thing, Vlka Fenryka were next! In their semi-final I really rated these guys, and they completely change the atmosphere of The Rebellion unlike any other band at this event. It felt like they had put that little bit more thought and attention into how they looked on stage and how they presented themselves, and this is something I massively appreciate! The intro with the band chanting and bouncing around the stage was a sight to behold – it’s unlike any other band and I loved it. Musically the guitar tone was significantly better than last time, my ears weren’t bleeding, and in fact, the Melodic Death Metal style riffs were really audible, which was music to my ears, quite literally. The vocals also seem to have stepped up, the growls were slightly deeper than last time, which for me fits this style way better than the high pitched tones. Add these to the once again cracking cleans and you can’t really fault them. Vlka gave the crowd a load of blue glow sticks, which when I asked them ‘why’ they replied, ‘well it’s blue so it fits.’ It didn’t fit, Vikings didn’t have blue glow sticks, and this to me was an afterthought that actually took away from their image. I’m sure there is something else they could have done that would have been better but hey ho. Also there were way too many ‘woahs’ in this set for me. It starts to make the songs all sound the same. Again I am being really fucking picky here as this was a solid set with unbelievable crowd control and crowd engagement, like no other here. Yes, we had seen pits and carnage, but this was a different kind of owning the stage, as well as another belter of a set!
The final competing band was Portrayal of Ruinn, and after their semi final set, which was probably the worst I have seen them, they really needed to step it up here. Starting with 3 hi-hat hits then straight into their set, it felt a little lacklustre compared to the previous bands, and immediately I thought ‘here we go again.’ Thankfully I was wrong and they proceeded to dive headfirst into brutality and carnage! Instantly pits were being opened and bodies were being hurled across the room, and this is what Portrayal are about! They again owned the stage and this time what they asked for from the crowd they got! It seems a couple of weeks and a tour have done them some good. It felt like they were playing for the crowd as opposed to playing for themselves and it made a huge difference! The reaction they got was massive. Musically everything sounded a lot more polished, the riffs sounded chunkier, the drums were tighter, and the bass was as crunchy as some honey nut corn flakes. They even threw in some backing vocals which again really worked well; there wasn’t loads of them but enough just to emphasis certain parts… call it tasteful. The lead vocals started off pretty solid, the lows and mid range were spot on, with the ‘brees’ also working nicely, however I think perhaps a bit more vocal warm ups are in order, as towards the end of the set the ‘brees’ were more like whispers and his voice did start to crack. Another point from last time was the clean to distorted on their new song. This felt like an afterthought during the last set, but even though I’m not a huge fan of this, it was much slicker than last time. This set was a million times better than their semi final. Staying on stage REALLY worked well for Portrayal tonight. They looked so much more professional, they were tight and all round really fucking good to watch!
So, with the competing bands out of the way, we moved on to the final 3 guest bands. First up was Belfast based The Crawling, previous M2TM winners in 2016, who have since got on to play the second stage. These guys wasted no time in bringing their Doomy, depressing metal to the crowd, and honestly, it was gorgeous! The guitars were so pretty they give me butterflies and almost a tear in the eye. The melodies are prettier than you’re wife to be on your wedding day, I just cannot get enough of them. Despite these guys only being a 3 piece the sound is huge and filled the whole room leaving the crowd grinning and nodding in pure appreciation. As for me, well I had the biggest smile on my face in awe of them, just wow! Now there wasn’t just pretty music here. There were also some gnarly vocals to go with it, almost sounding Draconian Esk. There is a right mix of influences, from Slayer to Satyricon, and all were obvious to see throughout. Honestly I could ramble on about how much I enjoyed these guys and I wish there was a bigger crowd for them because my god YES!
From the melancholy to the mental! Yes, it was Manchester/Cheshire’s own Footprints in the Custard (minus the mankini). Footprints are well known for their crude themes and nudity on stage, but tonight was actually an exception for the nudity! It felt like a more mature set; don’t get me wrong it was still entertaining and funny but there wasn’t a real dick to be seen on stage! Although there were plenty of foam dicks in the crowd – pretty sure everyone got a dick to the face at some point! An example of this maturity was in the song ‘A Barren Field Of Fucks’! The riffs were straight out of The Black Dahlia Murders catalogue (RIP Trevor) and it strangely works. I like the way they’re moving to more interesting song writing, within the silly themes. Guitar wise, even though there was only one tonight, it still sounded big, and the solos cut through so cleanly they could be mistaken for a freshly washed dick. Footprints also brought their giant inflatable unicorn, which was instantly thrown into the crowd, with an audience member riding it (sure there is another dick joke in there somewhere); this however nearly caused more damage than it was worth, almost taking out some of the stage lighting and the guitarists lead. So, sadly, the unicorn was put to sleep earlier than perhaps intended. This was a very silly set as usual and an almost emotional one with the speech about Trevor. Very enjoyable, very fun and it gave me the chance to say ‘dick’ as many times as possible in a review! Penis!
Finally tonight we had a bit of brutal Death Metal from Foetal Juice. These guys are relentless in their speed and aggression; some of the faces they pull on stage are frankly intimidating, but that all adds to their aesthetic. The crowd responded to this aggression with drunken chaos, many beer cans being smashed over their heads, necked in one or just thrown around (waste of beer). Even the band joined in by biting some cans in half! Foetal Juice were clearly in the party spirit as they looked noticeably inebriated by this point, yet somehow they managed to remain tight and relatively professional on stage, even with the comment ‘to the competing bands, don’t worry if your shit, look at us.’ In fairness this wasn’t a shit set by any stretch of the imagination. What it was, was, well… pure decimation: plenty of pits, unbelievable fast songs and a set which flew by in the blink of an eye. We even got a cheeky guest appearance from their former vocalist who didn’t seem to have lost any of his abilities, and in fact had a voice that can only be described as ungodly. I really enjoyed these guys as well, and they were the perfect band to close out this very long day of bands.
So with that there was only one thing left… Time to announce the winner, *drum roll*………….. Portrayal of Ruinn! This was rightfully deserved, the amount these guys have improved since there semi final was insane! They will be a welcome addition to Bloodstock.
As for the other 3 bands, well they need to return next year. They were all incredible and would have all been deserved winners. I don’t say that lightly either, as if you have read any of my previous reviews, you will know that I won’t hold back. But tonight each band brought it in their own way and really should be proud of how far they’ve got.
So that’s Manchester sorted, let’s find some more finals to criticise!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. All photographic images are the property of Drew Scott. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Badgerfest Promotions Presents… Badger & The Mushrooms Christmas All Dayer Rebellion, Manchester,11/12/21 Review by Rob Sutton
It had been a while since I’d last been to the rebellion in Manchester, and since the lockdown there have been many setbacks for the venue. Deansgate station needed work done to it and this in turn caused the closure of Rebellion for a number of months while the work was taking place. This has led to many things in Rebellion suffering. Firstly the entire toilet block had been destroyed, leaving the venue having to replace the facilities with portaloos. Not only that,but the stage itself looked to have been hastily put back together and looked unfinished. This was a massive shame as this venue was one of my favourites to go to. Tonight’s gig was also plagued with numerous technical difficulties and sound issues. Never-the-less the bands made the best out of this situation.
Due to work commitments I didn’t manage to catch World Held Hostage or Mairu.
So first up for me was 40,000 Leagues, a band I have seen many times and each time they seem to get better. The whole band oozes with charisma on stage and are very engaging to watch. Vocally, Nathan’s voice was absolutely on point again, in fact I would say here it was the best I have heard it. Some of the notes he hit were simply stunning, and it was backed with some soaring solos and on point drums. There was a huge amount of crowd participation in this set, most notably ‘story time’ where the whole crowd sits down! While this has been done before, it was something unusual for the Manchester scene, which was great. My only criticism is that the last song did go on a little bit too long for me, but the addition of a Christmas song was very fitting. This was a cracking set and a great start to my day.
Next it was the turn of Clashmute, a band I first reviewed at Badgerfest, where they properly won me over. This set was equally as good, as the band again looked professional on stage, and again gave a show worthy of bigger stages. This gig was the final show for their bassist, and what a reaction they got with pits present throughout their set. The atmosphere was amplified by more cracking breakdowns which had the whole crowd banging their heads. A personal highlight of this set for me was ‘In Virtue’; this song is a proper banger, and Clashmute had the crowd shouting the lyrics back at them. Ryan’s voice has improved massively over the years I have seen them, but tonight didn’t quite match their set at Badgerfest and this did result in some moments of feedback when he cupped the mic. Having said that, this set really got the night going for me; it had everything you want from a Metalcore band. Definitely a fan!
UK Melodic Death Metal is hard to come by these days, and in Manchester I only really know of one band, Frozen in Shadows. They are made up of members of many other bands, including Footprints in the Custard. You could say they are a super-group. Sadly here they suffered with a lot of technical difficulties which led to the guitars cutting out and almost inaudible keyboards. This was a real shame as at Bloodstock these guys were fantastic, but the whole sound got completely lost. I also felt the drums were overly complicated for the sound they were going for; that’s not me saying the drums are bad, but in some cases you can over play and be overly technical, or throw fills where they aren’t really necessary, and this was an example of that. This took away from some of the fantastic riffs that would otherwise be much more noticeable and also seemed to drown out the keyboards further. As previously mentioned there are members of Footprints in the Custard, and while the genre Frozen in Shadows are going for is completely different, I can’t help but notice the silliness from FITC has transferred over here, and it’s not something I feel works. I’m all for a band being a little silly every now and again but this did feel like a mirror of Footprints’ comedy. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Frozen in Shadows. ‘Alone’ is an absolute belter of a Melodic Death Metal track, but this set fell flat tonight for me.
Gospelhiem I saw a few months ago for their very first show, so I was eagerly awaiting this set to see if they had improved. I was not disappointed. Their confidence as a band has grown immensely, and vocally I could hear them so much more clearly than previously. They created a depressingly dark atmosphere throughout the venue, one which was a great change from the previous bands. I was particularly impressed with Lenore’s voice which was incredibly haunting throughout the set. Gospelheim really have massively improved since last time and I can see why they are getting bigger and bigger gigs thrown their way. They are completely different to anything else in the genre, and I love it. If I had to nit-pick this set, I would say it was a song too long; a half hour set for me would have been absolutely spot on. Definitely a band to watch going forward!
Another blast from the past for me was After the Abduction. I have previously seen them on a number of occasions, and played alongside them, so it was nice to see them again. There was a notable change to their line-up, as they have recruited a new bassist/vocalist, although he was in their previous band, The Threat. With this change of line-up also came a slight change in genre, the familiar slams and brees have been replaced by Death Metal grunts. The whole sound was very different from their previous guise, but was a welcomed change. After the Abduction have always been known to play to an exceedingly high standard and this performance was no exception, I don’t think there was a note wrong here. They utilise some lovely chops within riffs to really emphasise their competence, and add a nice breakup of the song. Throw in some ridiculously heavy breakdowns to that mix, and the whole set just felt tight and polished. ATA don’t lack confidence on stage either – each member, including the drummer, can be seen glaring at the crowd, head banging, and generally going mental on stage! Even though ATA did suffer with technical difficulties which completely wiped out the bass, they continued on. Luckily for them this happened during the last song, but it did leave the vocalist/bassist a little lost without his instrument. This was an absolutely stunning set. It was performed perfectly and left me lost for words, outstanding is the perfect phrase for this set.
From downright heavy, to pretty next! Another band I have seen on many occasions is Countless Skies, and by this point I am pretty sure they are sick of the sight of me. Especially after running into them in Slovenia, of all places. Countless Skies hold a special place for me as I am a massive Melodic Death Metal fan, and I have always considered these guys to be amongst the best in the genre! I own every album/EP they have released, and about 3 of their t-shirts. Anyway, enough fanboying! On to their set. It was simply beautiful. The backing tracks were at a perfect level as to not overpower the guitars, and there were some stunning keys underneath what can only be described as breathtaking guitars. Their use of tapping really tugs on your heartstrings and you really feel the emotion within the songs just from the guitars alone. Once you add in the powerhouse of a voice that the bassist possesses, it takes the whole sound to a new level. We were treated to a few new songs from their new album, one of which, ‘Glow’, took up the majority of their set. This is not a complaint though, as it is brilliant. I would have loved this set to have been longer and would also have loved to have heard ‘Ethereal’ again, but I can’t use these points to mark down what was probably the most enjoyable and emotionally powerful set I have seen this year.
Anyone who has seen a metal gig line-up will have probably seen a logo that stands out from all the others. Here it was a colourful, child-like design which looked as if someone was having a joke with the poster. But if you thought that, you would be wrong! Party-Cannon from Scotland are no joke, just heavy as hell fun! They were the last of the original bands tonight and brought with them a party like no other. We had a huge amount of inflatables, as well as bags of party balloons. The crowd went wild for this and we ended up with numerous crowd surfers on top of an inflatable shark (most of whom fell off immediately), and a set that had nonstop circle pits, spin kicks, and general violence! Crowd aside, Party-Cannon play a good mix of grindcore and slam, but their overall sound is very different from the usual slam bands I see them play with. There’s a lot more emphasis on the riffs and the groove within the songs, coupled with some utterly filthy gutturals which make it just damn dirty! They do also add slam elements to their sound, but their breakdowns aren’t the usual slam style. There is a bit more to them than that, and I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly, but damn I like it. Party-Cannon are not only brutal and enjoyable to watch, but also add the element of entertainment when it comes to getting the crowd going. I have not seen a band have this much control over the mayhem that’s ensuing before them, and it is impressive. This was again an absolute blast to watch!
We ended the night with Badger and the Mushrooms, a covers band that, obviously, with the name, played Badgerfest. Last time they had a half hour set to open a festival, this time we had about an hour and they were the headliners. Now, obviously being a covers band, I can’t comment on their music creativity, and unfortunately there were quite a few mess ups within the set which were noticeable. Having said that, they are fun, and the whole point of this set wasn’t to be serious or show off. It was to entertain. And that they very much did. While we had the usual Rock/Metal covers of artists such as Disturbed, Metallica and Ozzy Osborne, tonight we had a few extras, including a Christmas song, a ballad from Alter Bridge (blackbird) and my personal highlight, ‘Gay Bar’. I am not going to sit here and tell you this was a brilliant set or musically they’re the best covers band, but what I will say is it was the perfect way to close this all dayer. The whole crowd dancing, the whole crowd singing along, and everyone leaving the venue with a massive smile on their face. That is what Badger and the Mushrooms are about, having a good ol’ party!
This was a fantastic gig with a fantastic line-up, Badger really has a knack for putting on gigs like this now, and I love them. Sadly, the venue not being finished and nearly every set having some form of technical difficulties did let the day down a little. But really this shouldn’t take away from what was a truly awesome gig. I enjoyed every band I saw, and would happily see them again. Badger, you should be proud of this one!
One other note was for the bar man, Jake, who was the most helpful and chatty bar man I have had the pleasure of being served by. He went above and beyond!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. All photographic images the property of Sheri Bicheno. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Badgerfest -The Sequel Saturday 13th October 2018 Rebellion, Manchester Review by Beth Jones
Badgerfest 2018 had been hotly anticipated here at camp Ever Metal, and so you can imagine our dismay when Rick’s illness demons reared their ugly head throughout the night before. To say he wasn’t a happy bunny was an understatement. Luckily Sian, my third man, stepped up to the plate with the enticement of taking pictures and seeing old friends again. As we headed to the venue, the weather was murky and grey, which could mean only one thing – we were in Manchester!! This was my first experience of the much talked about Rebellion venue, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at how well laid out it was. With one main area housing the main stage, then a side area housing the second stage, it was a good-sized space for an all dayer!
The one thing I love about going to a metal gig is that pretty much wherever it is, you are going to see someone you know – the metal family is much extended, but close knit, which is why it is the best family to be a part of! Today was no exception, as when we arrived, the first person we saw was a very smiley Nick Gregory (Radio Deeside), who was one of our fabulous compéres for the day, along with Steve Tottle – fully kilted up and ready to go! By the time we had got in, said our hellos and found somewhere to dump our stuff, it was time for the music to start, so we headed to the main stage, or The Mushroom Stage, as it was called. Today’s billing was going to be loud, fast and heavy as f….udge, so we had our ear plugs at the ready ( health and safety of course being our main priority here 😉!)
First up was Blackpool boys, Daybreaker. Bang! If ever anyone wants a lesson in how to be the first band on at a gig and make an impression, watch these guys! They were like a tightly coiled spring, bursting with energy and ready to set the tone for the day. Bass player Lynden was superb and had bags of stage presence. They included quiet, more toned – down middle 8 sections in a couple of songs, and this contrast worked really well. Their sound was superb, with vocals that were screamy, but not over the top and great guitar work, all kept in check by the crazy drumming of Tom, who looked like he was having some sort of episode but couldn’t half hit them bangy things well! A great start to the day. We were all now very much awake!
After a brief digest of the stonking set just delivered to us, we headed over to the second stage – The Snake Stage – covering the massive 20 foot walk in a matter of seconds! Norwich based noisy people, Hedra, had the pleasure of opening this stage for us. They had some sound tech issues to start with (more on that later) but it was sorted quickly, and they soon got into the swing of things. These guys really know how to create the full package. A quick visit to their Facebook page will show you their level of professionalism, and I really like the fact that they almost had a band uniform, black shirts with the logo and band name on – which I liked a lot – it is good to see a band thinking about their whole image, not just the sound. They are very technical rhythmically and have lots of nods to varying genres in there, most noticeably modern djent style guitars and cross beat rhythms, but with more power. Their new drummer, Shaun, smashed it, and had some sweet sounding cymbals! For me, the only criticism was the bass was a little high in the mix. My god we were in for one powerful day!
Over on the Mushroom stage, the next act, Lancashire’s Promethium, were ready to go. Rick had been sent their album earlier in the year, so we were interested to see them live. The one thing that stood out for me was the great guitar solos. Unfortunately, to me, every song sounded a bit the same. The singer was very passionate but maybe pushing too hard and it ending up sounding like he was shouting a lot of the time – maybe he couldn’t hear himself enough in the mix. The lead guitarist did have a lovely classic sound and liked a bit of wah, which is always a plus. Things picked up a bit towards the end of the set, but they didn’t blow me away sadly. Whether we caught them on a bad day, or they were having some unknown sound issues on stage, I don’t know. I need to see them again to make a proper judgement really.
Back over to the Snake Stage, for another new name to me – God Shaped Devil. One word. Yes!! This was more like it! For a start, they looked more into it, and worked really well together. They were extremely well – rehearsed but looked like they were having fun with it. They had a fantastic thrashy sound and really great vocals. The sound was much better now on this stage. Their songs were well constructed, and even though they were still heavy, they had a real good groove and excellent melodies that you could really get in to. The drummer, Luke, was having a great time thrashing out, with some cracking double bass pedal work backing up his relentless pace! The fast-paced penultimate song, ‘Deadly Sign’, was superb and really got the crowd going. I think a lot of people really appreciated their energy as there was plenty of audience participation. Every song was a big hitter, with really well thought out riffs and beginnings and endings, which can sometimes be the hardest part of song writing! Absolutely loved their performance. My band of the day!
After that amazing performance the room was buzzing, and the excited energy continued to build, for next on the Mushroom Stage was new super-group Frozen In Shadows, fronted by none other than Footprints In The Custard’s Russ Custard, and with our intrepid organiser, Mr John Badger giving his first of two performances of the day on percussion (because, why just give yourself the stress of organising an all dayer, why not chuck a bit extra in with two rounds on the stage innit!). Now, for those of you who know and love Footprints, and were expecting a comedy band, you would have been disappointed, but for those wanting something kick ass, heavy and in your face, this is most definitely for you. I had purposefully not listened to the recently released EP, as I wanted the results of this meld of minds to be a surprise….Fuck me sideways! If the day’s proceedings so far had left anyone in any doubt about what sort of music we were all there for, then that was blown out of the water with this performance! They fired straight in to the set with an insanely fast, killer song and then carried on in the same vein throughout. It was so in your face it was like being beaten with a brick, but in a brilliant way! It was full on, high octane stuff, performed by consummate professionals. Some superb drumming from John who at one point nearly lost a cymbal he was hitting it that hard! I personally couldn’t hear Russ’s vocals at times. He was using a radio mic and there were issues with feedback and getting the levels right – I don’t think the desk could get the mix right, a theme that I eluded to earlier in the review, and that would continue through the day, which I will talk more about that later! Regardless, this was the business. Start to finish. Considering this is a new project and only their second gig, it was mind-blowingly good, and whilst I love Russ’s comedy side, he has shown here that he is just an all-round great frontman!
After the crazy dose of ear porn that we had just been served, it was time for Northern heavy heads, Skeletal Damage on the Snake Stage, where none other than Footprints drummer Alex Sladen (their plan to secretly take over the world, one band at a time has been put into action, and no-one will ever find out about it unless someone says… oh, wait, what, no! Forget you read that bit!) With some very fast blast beats from Sladen, they set the pace for their performance almost as quickly as Frozen In Shadows had, however they had a very tough act to follow, after what we had all just witnessed on the Mushroom Stage. For me, they were just ok. They know what they are doing and are solid, but I just wasn’t feeling it. The connection with the audience wasn’t quite there, but I think a lot of that had to do with the space they were in, as they were good to dance to and it was crying out for a circle pit in a bigger venue!
We first saw the next band, Fractions, at Uprising 2017, when they were fairly new in their current line-up, and we were kind of undecided about them at the time – and for us there was something missing; they didn’t seem quite ready. What a difference a few months makes! It was like watching a different band! From Leicester, they bill themselves as Metalcore and Progressive, and that is now clearly evident in their writing. They gave us a full-on set of really complex tunes with intricate guitar and lots of cross rhythms throughout, with absolutely superb vocals from Christophe Hare. It was all very polished, and they seem to have grown unrecognisably in confidence since we last saw them. It was really pleasing to see the progress they have made in the last year and the strong fan base that they have. Well done lads, you have me converted! Fractions! Fractions! Fractions!!
I was in a really good mood now after that and headed back to the Snake Stage for Reprisal – from the shiny bit of the country that us lot up here call ‘The South’. They bill themselves as Brutal Thrash. They aren’t kidding!! The vocalist, Tom Johnstone, JEEEBERS!! Now there is an angry man if ever I saw one!!! Or at least his stage persona is!! They are a bloody heavy, brutally fast wall of noise, which makes you feel like a hedgehog facing up to a bulldozer! They got some in the crowd going a bit too much for my liking and things started to get a bit ugly, so I got out of there – Ross Kemp fashion. I’m only a titch and, with no photo pit, and some seriously large people all going a bit Jackie Chan behind me, I thought it was best to retreat before I got squished! Musically, it wasn’t really my bag if I’m honest. It was a bit too brutal. I do like a bit of tune with my growl! But that said, they did what they do really well, and the drummer was insane and in perfect time, which isn’t always a given with drummers!!
Next up on the Mushroom Stage, were Manchester’s own, Impavidus – with John Badger making his second appearance of the day. Before that though, it was time for our fabulous compéres, Steve and Nick to have a bit of silliness with the audience, in the shape of the renowned ‘Badger Dance’! After a quick audience training session, the whole room was jigging about to the ‘Badger Song’, and having a right old party! Great fun was had by all and it breathed a new lease of life into the crowd, just in time for Impavidus to come on and do their thing.
So, what can I say about these guys that I haven’t already. I love them. They are so good together as a band, with each member being superbly talented in their own right; and with having such a good balance of growl and clean vocals, their music is always interesting and intriguing. You never get that same old same old feel with them. I am also completely in love with Michelle and want to marry her, because her vocal ability is stunning, and she is also the nicest person you will ever meet. Sadly, one thing that I will say about this performance is sound issues, and not through any fault of the band. I have mentioned earlier in this review that I would come back to this issue, and this is the point I am going to. Up until now, there had been some issues with levels, and feedback, and not enough of one thing or another in the monitor, however this is where it got real, and unfair. During the badger dance, the main stage sound tech had disappeared, and hadn’t arrived back by the start of Impavidus’ set, leaving the booth completely unmanned, and not having turned on the stage right mic, or monitor, which was needed for Bassist Patrick McBride. Myself and Sian happened to be stood on that side of the stage, and he was not a happy bunny one little bit – and completely understandably! I had ignored most of the issues until now, because they were only small, and sorted quickly, and with live events in a venue like this, you expect there to be the occasional issue, but this was a whole different level of unprofessional in my opinion, especially considering this was the main band of the guy that has organised the whole thing and was essentially paying the sound guy’s wages! Not only was the bass player about to go apoplectic, but there were issues with feedback, and Michelle’s vocals were very low. Eventually after about three songs, the scarlet pimpernel returned and just about sorted out the sound issues. Thankfully, the band just got on with it and the crowd loved them, so much so, that at the end of the set, they chanted ‘One More Song’ until they guys came back to do a thoroughly deserved encore!
After a short delay, due to the impromptu encore on the main stage, Nick Gregory was able to very enthusiastically announce the wonderful Torqued. Having travelled 7 hours up from Devon, they were hoping for a great show and the crowd were right behind them from the very start. Yes, you’ve guessed it – today’s running theme – some sound issues to start, with gremlins in the wireless equipment, but it got sorted pretty quickly. On speaking to Bassist, Marc Cleave, briefly before hand, he had said that Rimmy, their awesome guitar megaman, was now also going to be sharing the vocals with him. This worked really well, as their voices blend very nicely together, and it added another element to their sound, which is already mightily impressive for a three piece. They are also becoming a lot tighter the more they play. I love the Bass tone that Marc uses – it is really meaty and adds a lot of depth to their sound, and with Rimmy’s solo work just making everyone a little moist, they are a proper contender for one of our stand-out bands of the year. It was a good reception from the gathered crowd too, which was great to see. By now, the venue was packed to the rafters, which is a shining success, and tantamount to the hard work that John has put into the promotion of this event.
If metal music was like car manufacturing, our next band, This Is Turin, would be the Japanese model – impeccably technically mastered and something to drool over. This was a bunch of amazingly talented people delivering a perfect set. They are heavy and industrial, unrelenting and powerful, and great to watch. The double bass pedal work was Incredible and would have most drummers salivating and crying with envy! This set was a bit of a photography nightmare with complete red lighting throughout, but it did give a great effect and tone for their performance – it was almost like a vision of hell, bathed in fire and fury. Vocalist, Darryl Jones, was really animated and got the crowd really pumped. I loved this – it was super heavy, super dark, and super technical. Well worth checking these guys out.
Back over on the Snake Stage, Manchester death metal outfit, After The Abduction were just about to start. I have to admit that I was flagging at this point and had to wimp out cos my brain was fried, but what I could hear from the beer garden was brutal as! Thankfully the beer garden was situated adjacent to the Snake Stage, so it was still possible to see and hear what was going on, and I can tell you that not only did they sound brutal, but it was packed, and the crowd was brutal! It was great to see everyone having such a good time, and again, even though their music was a bit too much for me, they were certainly pleasing the crowd.
Next up were the positive folk orchestra, Isarnos, a seven-piece outfit, including violin, hurdy gurdy, penny whistle and Irish bouzouki, who marry up folk music with metal! Holy Moly! They certainly filled the stage, and this was right up my street! Having roots in classical instruments, and having played in a folk band, I was really stoked to see these guys in action. Again, the soundman couldn’t quite keep up, with levels all over the place to start with. In fairness, the range of instruments here would make even a hardened sound tech, sweat like Satan’s armpits! But it was an extremely good merger of folk instruments and heavy, almost symphonic metal and I need to listen to more of them! My one note would be that occasional tuning issues were apparent. I’m not sure how they tuned, but it could have done with being tuned to the Hurdy, as the drone sometimes seemed a little off. But massive kudos for them to do something as epic as this, and different, but still managing to fit in so well on a day like this. I really enjoyed them, but it was a shame that the sound wasn’t great again!
Out headliners on the Snake stage were up next – Prognosis. A good dose of extreme heavy prog to close out the second stage was perfect. They were very heavy and again very technical, but a real crowd pleaser. The place was completely heaving by now, and the space on this stage was noticeably cramped. The sound was now a lot better. Yey! For anyone who likes their prog on the heavy, very technical side, these guys are definitely ones to check out, it was a great, fast paced set and a brilliant way to close out that stage.
Our final act and headliners on the night were Londoners, Divine Chaos. Three words: In another league! You could tell that these guys had been going a good while and lived for the band. They also brought with them their own sound tech, who knew exactly what he was doing and what sound the band wanted. In all honesty, he was a little too fussy, and took a bit long sorting out tech issues including the second mic, that decided it couldn’t be arsed working any more. They eventually started 30 minutes late, which I think was detrimental as the crowd thinned a little with people needing to catch last trains. But, and it is a big but, their performance was absolutely stunning!! Thrash at its very finest. It was impossible not to like them, with their great hooks, catchy riffs and superb vocals, which really got everyone moving and singing along. They were a brilliant choice as headliner and a perfect example of British Thrash at its best. Their final song was all about crowd participation, and they had the entire place singing along and waving their arms, stadium style. They brought in another level of entertainment and breathed a new lease of life into the weary crowd. This is what these events are about. Still seeing that joy on people’s faces at the end of a high-octane day. There wasn’t a single person in that room who wasn’t having a good time.
As the houselights came up and the room cleared, one thing was certain – we had all had a stunning day. Yes, there had been issues with sound, but hey, it was a great gig with some really great bands, and everyone had a fantastic time. My Absolute Highlight of the day were God Shaped Devil. A totally new name, that blew me away! I love it when this happens!!! A very close second to them were Frozen In Shadows, just for their pure power and professionalism. Hats off to John Badger for stepping up to the plate to organise it all, and to all the other people behind the scenes – the stage crew, headed up by Simon Robertshaw, our fabulous compéres, Steve Tottle and Nick Gregory, who made sure the day flowed and that everyone knew who was next; the bar staff and security staff for keeping everyone safe and stocked with beer, Michelle Adamson and Abbie Taylor et al, for manning the doors, and looking after Sian; and the sound team, who did try their best – every experience is good experience. I Cannot wait for next year! If I had one ask, it would be for a proper photo pit at the front, because I don’t want to die of being squashed in a mosh pit, unless I am in the middle of it on purpose, not by default! Thanks again for inviting us John, and a massive well done to you. We are not worthy!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of all parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.