Saturday 7th June 2008 – Snooty Fox, Wakefield
Pitiful Reign, Solitary Mass, Let ‘Burn, DreamCatcher, Hallowed Point, Narcotic Death, Oblivion Gene, Hamerex and Unforgiven Rapture.
There’s no shortage of choice for the metal fan today, with Rock of Ages happening over in Leeds while some choose to venture into the capital for the annual Deathfest, although as people begin to file in to catch the daytime bands and get in a full drinking sesh it appears that the organisers have nothing to worry about. Opening these all day events is an unenviable task, and following a deafening soundcheck, Huddersfield act Unforgiven Rapture are the ones to set the ball rolling. While they kick off to a ropey start as the band struggle to keep it together, they appear to warm up and the focus shifts onto some technical death metal guitars that have me thinking of Decapitated, proving that while still inexperienced, there’s potential there.
It is nice to see Hamerex have actually seen the light and realised that aping Iron Maiden’s every move isn’t the way forward, and they’ve developed a style that’s a little less derivative. Chris has plenty of charisma and isn’t afraid to use the stage (as well as the rig, the bar and anywhere else he may roam) to his full advantage; it’s good to see his vocals are starting to match up to his mien as they sound gruffer, at one point reminding me of Mille Patrozza (Kreator). As he deserts the band and wanders off into the crowd leaving the guitarists to rip out some harmonies, it becomes evident that Hamerex are definitely heading down the right path.
Having heard their demo a couple of times, I find that a few of the songs played by Oblivion Gene ring out with an air of familiarity which I find myself warming to. There seems to be a certain level of uniqueness here in the songwriting as they strike a fairly even balance between melody and heaviness. There’s a good deal of anger showing through in the vocals, which sound clean despite the guttural delivery. As the bass kicks out plenty of bottom end, there’s a Hellhammer (Mayhem) feel to some of the militaristic drum beats that are coming from the back of the stage. With their confidence increasing, the potential for this band is looking more certain.
A last minute cancellation from Reth came as a disappointment although filling their shoes are Wakefield natives Narcotic Death, for whom I have a hard time believing that today is their gigging debut. Their musical output at times seems suitable for the Enslaved grounds of battle, with some Viking metal riffs and strong drumming and even some elements of thrash mixed into the chaos. The real eyebrow raiser here is the vocals of the frontlady who has a fantastic harsh croak that more than makes up for her wooden stage presence. This will no doubt come along nicely with experience and in time these could become a force to be reckoned with. (LH)
I last saw Hallowed Point two years ago when they didn’t have a complete line up, and to be honest, they were just an unarranged rabble. With a name like Hallowed Point you’d expect them to sound like Slayer, but they are far from it. I have to say there is still nothing too different in their songs. I must compliment on the vocalist and the way he moves around the stage as the front man is meant to. Another thing that stood out for me was that you could hardly see the rhythm guitarist, due to the lead guitarist being stood at the front blocking everyone, but despite that, as far as rhythm guitarists can go, he was good. Hallowed Point have definitely come on in leaps and bounds since the last time I saw them. There is room for improvement, both musically and in terms of playing live, although this was their first gig with this line up. (DJ)
Following a tea time respite, Dreamcatcher appear on stage ready to ease the crowd back into the spirit of all things metal. Theirs is of the progressive-power variety and they have that clinical, polished edge that’s necessary to pull it off. Being over a year since I last saw this band, the vocals are sounding much stronger although there’s still a struggle with hitting the right note every now and again. The guitarist’s fingertips whiz over the fretboard, while the keyboards add that added bit of atmosphere. I’m reminded a little of Vision Divine by their sound. With a large gathering outside during their set it’s clear that Dreamcatcher aren’t to everyone’s tastes, although for those with a proclivity toward the more melodic they went down a treat.
It’s time to crank it up a notch as the Bradford battalion of Let ‘Em Burn assemble in the stage area, ready to teach the kids a thing or two about how this thrash metal thing is done. With frontman Jay still not fit to be fighting on the frontline, no-one was sure how long he would last, today being their first gig since December. Still they gave a blinding performance which earned them the biggest and craziest pit of the day for the stomping ‘War Slut’ and the final attack of ‘Trenchfoot Terrance’. If a band can get so many thrashers to willingly remove their shoes in a pit, you know they’re good!
Having seen Solitary Mass three months or so ago, I had a rough idea what to expect. Back then they appeared a little rough around the edges and performing on a stage smaller than the average coffee table never does much for any band. Since then it appears that they have ironed out some of the kinks in their sound as their sludgy death metal comes across a lot tighter and seems to strike with more impact than before. A band definitely worthy of the main support slot.
With the event drawing to a close and a certain ex Iron Maiden frontman playing at Rock OF AGES there was always a risk that some folk would skedaddle before headliners Pitiful Reign hit the stage, and after the good crowd that had amassed for Let ‘Em Burn, the pit for Pitiful Reign was, err…well, pitiful! These Hull thrashers are the kind of band that really seem to bounce off crowd reactions, and for this reason tonight I was left with the feeling that their set could have ultimately been better. Still, the five piece thrashed their brains out and sped their way through a damned fine set for the metal maniacs left in attendance, rounding the day off to a close.
Overall this was a well organised and successful all dayer, which in case you were wondering, raised £392.50 for Cancer Research. Same time next year? (LH)
Luci Herbert & Dale Jones