Hit The Deck Festival @ ‘Rock City Complex’, Nottingham – Sunday 21st April 2013


Review by Brady Deeprose & Matt Bradley

Whirr – Stealth

Despite it being just after 12:30, Stealth was pitch black and the crowd were fumbling around to find their way in. This suited Whirr just fine and their odd brand of noise-rock just added to the atmosphere. A dark, smoky stage throughout, the elusive Whirr lurked in the shadows which, while detracting from their performance, allowed the audience to space out and ‘get freaky’ to their thick harmonic soundscape. The joint vocals were hard to distinguish at times but I’m going to hazard a guess they wouldn’t have made that much more sense written down. BD

htd_stage_times_notts_A5_frontSkies In Motion – The Forum

Opening up Front Magazine-sponsored stage in The Forum were Derby lads Skies In Motion. Having seen these guys grow from their humble beginnings in grotty pub function rooms to shows like this in such a short space of time has been exciting and there seems to be no stopping them. Playing all four tracks from their EP ‘Dreamer’ and brand new track The Light, the metalcore quintet set a new standard for themselves today, as the jam packed Forum went unashamedly mental for the local boys. The sheer amount of movement at the end of set closer, Glaciers, really was something special. MB

Black Dogs – Stealth

Moments after and just across the road at Stealth, something a little less polished took to the stage and promptly tore it apart. Anarchistic, hateful and full of energy, Black Dogs’ crazy metallic hardcore punk struck a (dis)chord with their loyal fans and whilst front man Gollo did his best to reach everybody in the room, there just seemed a little something missing. Not half bad though. MB

Departures – Stealth

Hitting the stage a whopping fifteen minutes late, Glasgow’s Departures tried their hand at gripping post-hardcore but it really did fall quite flat. A muddy sound with way too much bass killed any momentum that vocalist James McKean garnered with his surprisingly energetic stage presence. MB

Bossk – The Forum

Departures may have not quite gotten there, but holy crap, Bossk were the definition of atmospheric. Super heavy with infectious groove, more creepy sounds than a haunted house and more feeling than a blind couple on a first date, these guys really showed the Forum how truly dark and intense metal should be played. The room was rather empty but it was easily a case of ‘you missed out’ as this was one of the better sets of the day. MB

Max Raptor – Rock City Basement

From the wild antics of bassist Matt Stevenson to the calm, almost creepy stage persona of Wil Ray, Max Raptor are a delight to watch. Barrelling through tracks from their mini-album Portraits alongside some new tracks from their upcoming release, the band were at home on the stage and the crowd lapped it up. The new material flowed seamlessly with the old and standout anthem ‘The King Is Dead’ had the audience shouting along. Clearly the performance of a band that deserve a bigger stage! BD

Hand Of Mercy – Stealth

All the way from sunny Sydney, Australia, Hand of Mercy played to a packed house in Stealth. Charismatic front man Scott Bird led the bludgeoning proceedings in a high quality fashion as the crowd exploded as soon as they hit the stage. Somewhere between Madball and Hatebreed with a bit of Your Demise thrown in there, HoM’s brand of hardcore wasn’t exactly breaking moulds but the standard at which it was played more than made up for it. MB

Empress – The Forum

Having seen Reading’s Empress on their recent tour with Cancer Bats I like to consider myself as a bit of a fan. Sure enough, they didn’t disappoint. Bar a few technical issues, this was one of the most atmospheric, intense performances of the day with all members of the band showing their passion for their music. Single ‘Left In Awe’ is crushingly heavy and left the crowd…well, in awe. While vocalist/guitarist Ollie Loring’s voice didn’t cut through as much as I’d have liked, Empress were on top form and are soon heading out with Bring Me The Horizon on their UK tour. It will be interesting to see how the BMTH crowd take to Empress as their music lends itself to a more mature ear than I would say your average Death/Hardcore fan is in possession of. BD

Devil Sold His Soul – Forum

One of the more anticipated sets of the day over in The Forum was about to get underway, for both positive and negative reasons. Firstly, Devil Sold His Soul are renowned for being one of the bright stars in the UK metal skies, and secondly because this was the first of the final four shows for soon to be ex-vocalist Ed Gibbs. Thankfully, it was a great send off for Gibbs – his vocals were spot on, the sound was superb and the crowd reaction was off the chart. With few songs less than 6 minutes long, choosing the half hour set must’ve been a challenge but with fan favourites such as ‘An Ocean of Lights’ from Blessed & Cursed and ‘Crusader’ from Empire of Light, the song choice was great and the immense closer ‘End of Days’ itself said farewell to Ed in the most majestic and poetic of ways. MB

Summerlin – Rock City Basement

Alas, all good things must come to an end, so goes the saying for locals boys Summerlin, playing their last ever show under this name. The room was packed with fans wanting to give the band a good send-off and that’s exactly what they did. A tight set of pop/punk/metal tracks designed to get you moving and singing, a Summerlin show is always worth a watch. Midway though, something is thrown onto the stage, and picked up by bassist Ben Jackson. It was a t-shirt that read, much to his amusement, ‘Ben is awesome. (Summerlin are okay)’. After hanging it on his amp, he thanked everyone who has made Summerlin possible and stated that the band is hard at work on the new project to be announced soon. Closing number ‘You Can’t Burn Out If You’re Not On Fire’ from the album of the same name was the perfect send-off for a band that, after being on fire for years, have sadly burnt out. Let’s hope their new project can re-ignite that flame. BD

Rolo Tomassi – The Forum

What can be said about Nottingham’s home-grown heroes, Rolo Tomassi? It might be best that you check them out before continuing to read this. For those that are familiar, you can understand why a mathcore band with loads of jazz and post-rock influence would be interesting to watch live! Vocalist Eva Spence dashes around the stage doing the dance equivalent of the band’s music while the others, hard at work remembering extended chords and counting random time signatures, try to keep up with their own fast-paced and diverse set. The crowd weren’t really sure what to think but the atmosphere was one of general approval. BD

Stick To Your Guns – The Forum

Stick To Your Guns definitely had a bizarre intro tape but the So Cal five piece’s music was far from strange: straight-up, punishing hardcore from the West Coast. The sheer amount of the crowd ignoring the safety signs and threats of removal from security was a wonder to behold, and the wall of sound coupled with the goosebump-inducing singalongs really made this set of heartfelt socio-political lyrics one to remember. Urban reality, ungodly brutality. MB

Heart Of A Coward – Stealth

If you haven’t heard of H.O.A.C. yet, get that sorted as they’re set for world domination. Their tour in support of Scottish metal crew Bleed From Within rolled into Hit The Deck and saw them headlining one of the smaller stages. Jamie Graham’s commanding stage presence coupled with the crippling power of the bands Djent-infused metal is enough to get even the most placid metal head moving. New single ‘Deadweight’ was, as Jamie put it ‘The heaviest song you will hear all fucking day!’ and complemented tracks from Hope And Hindrance nicely. A dominating set from a band putting their mark on the UK metal scene. BD

Bleed From Within – The Forum

The second bunch of Glaswegians to grace the stage were rising metal upstarts Bleed From Within. Kicking things off with the title track to brand new album Uprising, BFW performed a metal master class comprised of new material and tracks from 2011’s Empire. Scott Kennedy is one of the most animated vocalists in the current generation of metal bands, and his constant movement, commanding of the crowd and flat out brilliant voice really elevate him and the rest of his crew above most other heavy bands out there today. Performances like this leave no doubt as to why these guys are finally on their own headlining tours. Again, a sure-fire nominee for set of the day. MB

Bleeding Through – The Forum

HTD Nottingham 2013 was day of endings and new beginnings. Bands like Don Broco, Heart Of A Coward, Bleed From Within and Max Raptor whose careers are just taking off playing alongside Summerlin and Bleeding Through, who announced that this would be their final UK performance before the band split up.  Taking to the stage a little late (I believe to allow some of their friends in bands to finish their sets and get to The Forum in time) Bleeding Through don’t play like a band on their way out. So commenced a blistering hour of the bands best tracks from their career such as the stunning ‘Sister Charlatan’ and the uncompromising ‘Orange County Blonde And Blue’. Brandan Schieppati explains that ‘Bleeding Through is a band we have to put 100% into, whether that’s recording, writing, practising or performing and touring. It’s got to the point in our lives where we can’t give it that 100% it needs and deserves so we’ve decided to call it a day…we’re not as young as we used to be’. From their Hit The Deck headlining performance, I would have to disagree, but it’s good to see a band go out on their own terms without milking it and losing what made them great in the first place. R.I.P. Bleeding Through. BD

Don Broco – Rock City

Due to the late start of Bleeding Through’s set and the gap between acts, I only managed to catch a portion of Don Broco’s headline set, but what a great portion it was. What is so striking about D.B. is that they’re one of the few bands I’ve where every member looks to be having the time of their life throughout the whole set, most noticeably bassist Tom Doyle whose massive grin was infectious. The band are rising stars and after a sold-out headline tour, this was a great way to cement their place as kings of UK indie-rock. I was glad to see them still playing fan-favourite ‘Thug Workout’ despite its heaviness causing a bit of a divide between their more chart-bothering album tracks from Priorities. The band’s catchy yet credible sound was the perfect end to what, by all accounts, was the best Hit The Deck to date. BD