The Metal Ball @ The Roadhouse Birmingham – 11th March 2012

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Review and photos by Mark ‘Tosh’ Davies

The Metal Ball was organized by local Rhubarb Radio D.J Jenny Tate in order to muster up some much needed funds after the station fell on some bad luck. Responsible for championing new unsigned rock/metal bands on her show she made the Metal Ball an exclusive unsigned bands only affair and what a lineup we had.

Kicking off with Blue Origin who put in an energetic display running through the bar, balcony and possibly outside it was good to see quality from the offset. Since going in a slightly heavier direction the songs now have a bit of meat on the bones which was delivered with boundless energy in this half hour set, great start.

The three piece of Black Wednesday was up next and with the bar set to high expectations had been raised. Luckily Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Dale Jones made sure that there was to be no dip in quality on his watch. With some awesome riffing, their brand of classic rock with a metallic edge gave the crowd reason enough to punch some horns in the air and rapture into some air guitar antics for the stunning solos ripping through his fingers.

Wraith had the unenviable task of following that and vocalist Matt Gore dripped metal frontman from every pore. It’s so good to see a frontman make an effort with stage craft and appearance and when you complement that with a great set of pipes it’s always a bonus. Overcoming some technical issues the forgiving crowd lapped up their metal delivery and their set came to a respectable close ensuring no dip in quality.

Steeltrooper must on the verge of something big judging by the number of shirts on display. Their thrash delivery brought proceedings into fully fledged metal territory ensuring swathes of headbanging hair flowed skywards. With Owen hill and Lawrence Shaw shredding like possessed madmen they ensured a few copies of their album Eternal Warrior were purchased from the merch stall, things have warmed up somewhat.

The metal majesty of Valhalla stepped up next and put in a sterling performance of thrash infused riffing. With boundless energy and some excellent musicianship this old school metal delivery went down a storm with the now well oiled punters. This certainly transported me back to the old days of Monsters Of Rock where the emphasis was more on quality rather than quantity.

Now the metal chains were firmly on, Shades Of Avalon made sure they were nice and tight and proceeded to take us to the next metallic level. Very much a heavier affair the death grunts and gnarls of Tobias bringing the menace and mood of the music to a new level. Playing only their 6th gig they did a good job of coming across like old pros. Dark, broody heavy metal played at its best Shades Of Avalon are a name to watch for….I’m rarely wrong.

Maidallica did exactly as the name suggest, covering Iron Maiden and Metallica. To be fair they did a highly respectable job, however the Maiden covers suited the awesome voice of Shaun Lotay far more. Playing an emphatic ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ ensured the metal horns were raised high.

The Fury truck just seems to gather momentum at a ridiculous pace and big things are surely on the horizon for them. Coming over as a well polished machine they ripped through a terrifyingly good set that left jaws open and the headbanging reaching monstrous proportions. Every inch rock stars the sheer quality of the songs; solo’s and vocals reminded me of my teenage years when you discovered a band for the first time on ‘The Friday Rock Show’. Hopefully this year will see Fury become the band they deserve to be.

Keeping the Fury theme alive, Point Blank Fury stormed on with Black Wednesday guitarist Dale Jones pulling double duty. As the say they play proper heavy metal and who am I to disagree? This was how I remember gigs in my youth, full of energy with every band vying for top spot and if I had to choose it would be impossible. The solo’s were plucked from thin air and it has to be said the band were tighter than a nuns nether regions ensuring their classic metal with a modern edge was delivered loud between the ears. A perfect end to a long metal filled day.

Many thanks to Jenny Tate for all the hard work organizing the gig.