Valkyrian Festival 2014 Review

So here it was, my first ever gig in Yorkshire, and it was… OK.  I lived – I guess you can call that something.  No, no, I joke around, this was a lot of fun.  So many great bands to watch and enjoy, everything from rock to metal to weird sounds that I never knew existed.  I went into this with high hopes and was not disappointed…for the most part.

Friday 21st November

Nexus One 

This was a pretty cool way to kick start a weekend like this – good old fashioned thrash metal.  Their sound was crystal clear and sounded great.  The audience of The Londesborough were enjoying them too.  The band themselves were obviously having a great time too, and blasted their set out and before you knew it it was over.  It was pretty straightforward, and there was no bullshit, just fun.  Definitely one to check out!

Apparition

Heavy symphonic rockers Apparition took to the stage with finesse and grace.  They sounded wonderful with big anthemic tunes, well executed guitar solos and heavy breakdowns Apparition certainly were one to catch.  In all honesty this is the best they sounded in a long time with Fiona Creaby back on vocals and guitarist Amy Lewis blasting some serious riff and solos, the band just sound complete.  Their sound was very rounded and the set was fluent.  Every song sounded great and there was a genuine chemistry with the band making the set all the tighter.  Excellent band.

Psydoll

Psydoll were easily one of the best acts of the weekend.  The iconic techno, industrial metal band had an amazing presence and delivered fantastic sounding set that had a great sense of atmosphere even for the little venue of The Londesborough.  The crowd were loving it too, I actually think they ran out of songs but people were still chanting “One More Song” they gracefully obliged as well. Their set was quite frankly amazing with catchy tunes, well done guitar parts and funky electro synth keytar. I’ve been a fan for a while so finally getting a chance to see them live in the flesh was absolutely fantastic.  They played all of the songs I’ve come to know and love over the years were performed, and for people there who didn’t know them, they soon learned very quickly. Unbelievably impressive set.

Saturday 22nd November

Hamerex

Hamerex were an impressive opener for the second day of the festival.  They were good old fashioned heavy metal.  Genuinely, these guys were a lot of fun with their set and if a band is so obviously having fun on stage then so is the audience.  With smooth guitar licks, fun solos, great bass lines and up tempo beats, they were a band for any heavy metal fan to rock to.  The vocals were a little off but I can’t hold that against them – technical issues aside, they were an impressive start to the day and I did end up buying their CDs so that’s something right?

Crooked Lizard

So yeah…Crooked Lizard. I loved them!  I have very little else to say – they were absolutely fantastic.  Great little rock n roll blues band from Hull, these guys brought a great set and one I think the crowd in Bridlington truly enjoyed.  They said it was a little awkward being a rock/blues band in the middle a of a metal festival but I say what’s a festival without variety.  They blasted a short but sweet set and like I’ve said, I loved it. Their sound was somewhat distorted at time but I don’t think anyone noticed.  Their riff and bass line were well executed and their vocal harmonies serviced them well too.  Great band, highly recommended and a wonderful player on the live scene,

Northern Oak

So the folk metallers took to the stage with the venue starting to fill up.  As there were so many members the band took up some of the floor space, but that just brought a way more intimate vibe to their performance.  Everything was great down to a T, and I think they were really well received.  I was afraid they would break the speakers they were so loud, but even through the heaviness you could hear great melodies from the violin and flute giving a pleasant atmosphere to the brutally heavy metal guitars and vocals.  The sound mixing was OK but I wish the flute had come across a little better as it was distracting and it would’ve been better to hear it more clearly, however I felt overall this was a great set.

Divided We Fall

These guys probably got the biggest crowd of the day, and it was well deserved. Their sound was crisp and you could hear everything and their songs sounded fantastic from start to finish and the crowd were really into it as well.  Philippa Rickett’s vocals were as good as they are on the album, if not better. The set was a great mix from the album, including ‘The Ship has Sailed’ which the band haven’t played live before this.  Excellent stuff.

Sorronia

So Sorronia took a while to set up, which harmed the rest of the night, but I will get to that later.  The set was excellent; the time they took setting up seemed to be well worth it. They worked really well, and shared a great onstage chemistry.  Their set was really enjoyable and they even managed to fit in a brand new song for their new album coming out sometime next year and that sounded great, honestly if that was an indication of their new material count me in as a fan.  Big songs like ‘Enemy of Yourself’ went down amazingly well.

Azylya

The second headliner of the weekend were Azylya, and the biggest mess up I have ever experienced, due to turn around times and certain delays, the headliners of the Saturday only got in 3 songs and from a fan perspective that is unacceptable, hell Azylya were one of the big reasons I attended this weekend.  So you can imagine my upset, however from what they did play they sounded absolutely excellent. Jamie Lee Smit’s vocals were outstandingly good.  The band themselves were as charismatic and fun to watch.  However this was completely thwarted by the sheer length of their set.  I can only hope the next time we get to see them they will get their due, instead of less time than your average support act at a gig.

Sunday 23rd November

Sunday rolled around and I was completely exhausted, I think all my reserves were spent going into this one. However, a power breakfast and about 18 cups of coffee did the trick and this was probably the best day.  After the mess of Saturday night, it was probably a blessing in disguise that 2 bands didn’t play the Sunday, meaning the bands that were playing got proper time to set up and shine.

Synchronix

It’s not every day I listen to an instrumental-progressive-funk-jazz-metal band, but Synchronix blew me away. (Maybe I need to condense that subgenre name…) They really impressive considering I was completely exhausted by this point. They were a lot of fun and as a musician myself I was enthralled by the level of skill and attention to detail in every song they were great and I had so much fun listening to them.

Greenfire

Everyone seemed to really enjoy Greenfire, and whilst I admit they were OK, I just couldn’t get into them.  They just seemed sloppy and not together. It really felt like two separate bands that were thrown together and told to play some songs, rather than a coherent unit and a band who’d been playing together for years.

Alwaid

This is where the day stepped up a gear, they say “save the best ‘til last” – well this was certainly the case for Valk-Fest, as every band from this point was excellent.  Alwaid delivered one hell of a performance and to be truthful, the amount of people saying that this was the band of the weekend was enormous, and considering this was their first time here in the UK that’s really impressive.  Their set consisted of their debut album material, I have since picked this record up and it’s awesome.  They performed their songs with passion and shared a great on stage connection.  Their sound was absolutely epic, definitely on my top discoveries in 2014.

Lost Effect

The quality just kept coming – next up were Yorkshire melodic metallers Lost Effect and they were really fun.  The dual lead vocals were a treat to listen to and they seemed to be having so much fun with their set opening it up for the fans to enjoy themselves.  Their sound was infectious and so was there energy.  You couldn’t help but enjoy their music they all had big smiles as they just enjoyed what they were doing so much.  Awesome band!

Alice In Thunderland

These guys were impressive, for a four piece old school heavy metal and it was a treat to listen to.  I felt though the vocals were a little shaky to begin the set it just seemed a bit out, however vocalist Kala got it together in the latter half of the set and it made the set feel more rounded and enjoyable.  The guitar riffs and solos were well executed and had a nice ring to them, like some of the stuff I was listening to when I was getting into metal for the first time, so I guess they brought on a sense of nostalgia in me. Good set, very enjoyable!

Aonia

From my perspective Aonia seemed to be the band of the weekend.  Not through my own personal taste, but just from the atmosphere and energy these guys played with.  They had easily the biggest crowd of the weekend, and were probably the most well-known.  They had a genuinely huge sound and vocalists Melissa Adams and Joanne Robinson just had an amazing sense of stage presence and shared a great chemistry. Przemek Druzkowski on guitar was simply wonderful as experienced earlier in the day with Synchronix.  Their set was well versed and each song sounded great.  I had a problem with Aonia when I’ve heard them on their EPs, and it’s that the singers are too similar in styles so the whole duel vocal effect doesn’t work as well, and I would be lying if I said it was hugely different live than on CD.  However, the pure energy they ignited was contagious and I had fun regardless.

Reign of Fury

This was the last band I saw at Valk-Fest and how wonderful it was to see Reign of Fury go out and kick some serious ass.  I literally had no problems with their set.  They were as tight sounding as ever, and the riffs and solos just flew out left right and centre. The Midlands headbangers put on a great show.  It’s just a shame that the crowd had mostly emptied after Aonia, it just felt like they were playing in a rehearsal space rather than a venue, which was a crying shame, if there had of been more people this would have been a freaking amazing finish to my weekend, instead it felt bittersweet.  To be honest though, I’m not taking anything away from the band, I mean a gig is a gig and these guys showed resilience and they just played a great show, they can’t be disappointed with that!  I love these guys and will inevitably see them again.

This was a fantastic weekend, and now, lots of new and exciting music is rattling inside my head, so what more can you ask for.

Mick Birchy
Get Your Rock Out
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