Review & Photos by Tony Gaskin
Day 1 – 20th September 2013
Festivals are usually an exercise in logistical organisation, and this one, albeit only one stage, would be no exception. One man, three days and just short of 50 bands to try and photograph and review!
Well, work got in the way of the first day so it was the guys from X-UFO who we caught first. Classic British rock from four guys who as you would probably have guessed were all ex-members of UFO, but also having gained their stripes by plying their trade with various NWOBHM and AOR bands over the last couple of decades. Tonight though was all about the classic UFO songs which bridged that gap between the heavy metal and more melodic rock of the 70’s & 80’s and the audience were appreciative.
What a contrast then with Skarlett Riot. The new face of British rock? There are many young, talented bands out there at the moment who have begun to look back at their roots and are taking influences from their Classic British heritage, rather than look to the metal scene that seems to be knocking out too many turgid bands at the moment, with only a very few rising above the stagnant waters. So looking back is moving forward? It is if you inject enough energy and passion into it, and this is exactly what Skarlett Riot do.
Singer/guitarist, Chloe Drinkwater has the impish looks of Bjork but all the power and force that is needed to propel this band forward. The songs are fast, catchy and heavy enough to keep even the most hard hearted metal heads happy. Both Tom (bass) and Danny (guitars) do their best to get some of the attention, but all eyes are on Chloe, and has much as I hate to say it, in this fickle world of image, she may be their biggest asset in getting that big break, as we all know, sometimes talent alone is not quite enough. Enough cynicism though, I really hope they can get over that next big hurdle, they do deserve it.
Black Acid Souls are a band who I’ve noticed around and about a lot over the last few months. Releasing their debut album “Deadly Sins” towards the back end of last year has propelled them onto the radar of bookers and promoters and they’ve been almost constantly gigging since that release. Heavy rock that is both easy to listen to and easy to head bang to, the crowd love it and they get a well deserved reception.
Then can’t be many bands who have gigged as much as B.A.S., but next band up can surely claim the title of hardest working band of 2013, if not then definitely most miles travelled! Absolva have come out of the blocks full pelt since their inception in May last year, and literally have only stopped gigging to record the album “Flames of Justice”, which has only seen the bookings soar!
Tonight they show no signs of lethargy or gig weariness as they bang out classic heavy rock tracks, Chris on guitar puts in a virtuoso performance, whilst Dan on bass is the epitome of a heavy metal legend; denim, hair and brutal bass licks. The man at the back provides a master class in rock percussion, Martin McNee is one of our finest home grown drummers and this is probably the best I’ve seen from these guys, the sound engineers nailed it (as they did for pretty much the whole weekend tbh) and the guys on stage seemed to feed off that and put in a blinder.
Headlining tonight were Sacred Mother Tongue, and after appearances at both Download and Bloodstock this year, then it’s safe to say SMT are a band on the up. Their current album “Out of Darkness” has proved a water shed for them, showing that they can be more than your run of the mill metal band. Darrin South’s vocals have the emotional pull of Shinedown’s Brent Smith with the arrogant swagger of Hetfield. Couple this with the slight doomy grooves of their songs and you get a sound more akin to a touring stadium band from across the pond. Andy James can knock out some tasty licks on his guitar and new bass player Craig Daws has shown no growing pains, slotting in nicely to help provide the solid rhythm section. All in all a great end to a day of fine home grown talent, and with two very long days still to come, I’m off home to my comfy bed.