So on to day two of this years Rock Of
Ages festival and after the ups and downs of yesterdays bands I was eager
to see how today would go. Day two was a far less chaotic affair
than Saturday, so it was off to the bar first thing to take our places at
the side of the venue and let the proceeding begin.
Opening up the second days events were
Heatray, another band who like Beholder the previous day's opening act,
a mighty big band with a mighty big sound, with their hearts solidly set
of old school metal.
The band's set was as hard as it was
metal, with stand out songs like ‘Nightwitch’ and ‘The Last Ride’, a track
dedicated to the memory of one of the bands friends who tragically lost
his life while taking his motorcycle out for what would be its last ride.
Paul "Chunk" Watling is
a massive figure on stage and has the vocals to match, along with brother
Neil and the other brother partnership of Mike and Dave Parker, with Chris
Best on drums, the band really got Day Two off to the start all
festivals want, big in your face metal that leaves you grinning from
ear to ear and wanting more.
Next up were another of those bands I was
really looking forward to over the weekend Rock$tar. I first
caught this band earlier this year at the Z Rocks Festival, which was held
in this very same venue in fact, and knew that today the band would put on
one hell of a rock show.
Unlike most of today’s tribute bands
Rock$tar don’t pick out one particular band, this band gone one further
and play tribute to a whole generation of 80’s bands! If this wasn’t
a feat in itself, they not only do it well, they do it with style.
Opening up with Dokken's ‘Unchain The
Night’ it was plain to all those around that this was a band really worth
watching, as the crowd truly swelled in population right from the first
few chords of this classic.
The band mixed some of the more obvious
classics with some surprise the first of these being a stunning version of
Thunder’s 'Love Walked In’.
The band never seem stretched with any of
the songs on the set and when they said that Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’
was next I was wondering if they had found their Achilles heal, but fear
not the band were just outstanding with new guitarist Al White just
spewing out the licks like the guitar heroes who's material he was
The band continued to pull out all the
stops with a remarkably impressive version of Tyketto’s 'Forever Young',
which instigated the Asylum choir to sing along and when they gave us
WASP’s 'Wild Child' that did for me.
They rest of the set included the likes of
Skid Row, Whitesnake but the real crowd pleasers had to be Guns N' Roses
'Sweet Child Of Mine' and Billy Idols 'Rebel Yell' which rounded off a
splendid set. This is a band don’t have any gimmicks, they just
play what they like and it's all from the heart, they love what they do
and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Next up were Spiral Dive, again a band
with their roots firmly planted in old school metal.
The band consists of Drik, Tony, Mitch and
Buzz simply came on like a chainsaw in overdrive with a fast and furious
set of rip snorting iconic metal, with guitarist Tony throwing out more
shapes that a kindergarten tantrum as he rocked the place like a demented
With towering metal anthems like ‘Down On
The Upside’, ‘Grinder’, ‘Keep Me Numb’, the epic metal of ‘Justice’,
before capping the set off in fine style with the grinding full on metal
of ‘Paranoid’, all good guitar fuelled metal tracks.
It's only now and then that these sort of
mini festivals bring you something rather special and today Hanging Doll
were just a band that simply blew me away.
The band were setting up their equipment
on stage and my bud Dave turned round and said "that guy served me
yesterday when I went to the bar" pointing at guitarist Daniel Leddy,
indeed he and drummer Alex both work behind the band at the venue.
The band led by the slight figure of Sally
Holliday were just mind-blowing, at last an all-British Power Metal band
to take on the might of Nightwish and the like. In fact not
only could this band take Nightwish on, they surpass them easily and could
quite easily become the next big thing in this genre if they get the right
The bands symphonic Metal was a majestic
as it was epic, as they opened up with ‘Sweet Retribution’ from this point
on the band could do no wrong as I and the majority of the crowd present just watched
in awe as this vibrant young band put on one hell of a show.
They continued their magnificent set with
‘Hope Springs Eternal’ with Holliday’s
scintillating vocals being matched by the gruff extreme vocals of
guitarist Daniel Leddy as the pair duetted
metal style on this superb slice of Symphonic Power Metal.
The band aren’t afraid to put the epic
material into the set as the seven minute ‘Iniquity’ showed the bands
musical splendour as well as Holliday’s superb vocals, this band have it
The band brought the tempo up a few notches
with the simply sublime ‘Twist Of A Deity’. Holliday may be small in
stature, but she has a towering and powerful voice that simply has to be heard
to be believed. With the keyboard wizardry of Aryan Amoli, the pounding
rhythm section of Alex Cooper on drums and Kev Wilson on bass, this is the
perfect band to take on the might of Euro Power Metal.
The band rounded off this quite
astonishing set with ‘Forlorn’ another epic. As far as I was concerned
that was it for me, I could have went back to my hotel totally satisfied
because I had seen one of the best bands I’ve seen for a long long time.
And I think Roy and Jacki better start advertising
for a couple more bar staff because this band are destined for great
things and Daniel and Alex are an intricate part of this band. I can’t
wait to see them in support of Power Quest later in the year.
From the new band to the older bands, the
name of Psychowrath may not be familiar but the names of Marc Angel, Eddie
Star and Phil Vokins might ring a few bells when the name Wrathchild is put with
them. Yes these three were part of the eighties Glam legends Wrathchild, all
that was missing from the line-up today was Rocky Shades, but fear not Rocky was here
as well!, only this time
not on stage but in the crowd supporting his former band members. The frontman slot for Psychowrath was filled by Gaz Harris.
are pure old school glam but unlike the Gypsy Pistolleros the day before,
Psychowrath were the consummate
professionals as they let their
music do the talking with their mix of LA
Guns and Tygertailz rock.
The band opened up their account in fine
fashion with ‘I Love The Night’ and the grooved filled sleaze of ‘All That
You Need’, with Angel still showing how to mix it up big style on the six
This is pure old school British Glam, never
mind the mean streets of Hollywood it was the mean streets of Evesham
guys learned their trade, as they carried on their impressive set with
‘Your Goin’ Down’ and the equally good lick filled ‘Time To Let You Go’.
As Gaz Harris let his vocals take centre
stage with the highlight of the set the excellent ‘Hollywood Or Bust’,
which round off a quite superb set from the boys and with them supporting Tygertailz later in the year, you can see them gathering quite a fan base
on the tour. I for one will be trying to catch one of those shows based
on this gig alone.
Another band high on the must see list for
today were Fury UK, a band who I caught many moons ago at Trillians in
Newcastle and was quite simply blown away by them as a band, but even more
so by the guitar genius that is Chris Appleton.
The band have seen a few line-up changes
since them but thankfully Appleton is still at the heart of the band.
The band had taken a quite Iron Maidenesque sound in their early days and
have developed a much more self grown
guitar laden Metal sound that suites Appleton’s guitar sound.
After the bands intro faded away it was
time for the band to be unleashed and they'd come here today to sell
themselves like no other band as they opened up with ‘Krueger’, a
blistering start to the set.
The band came across like a three piece
Metallica with Appleton simply sublime throughout as he handled both
guitar and vocals, as they pounded through the set with tracks like
‘Natural Disaster’ and the molten metal of ‘Salvation’.
The band simple ripped the roof off the
building with a fantastic display of no holds barred metal with the
highlights for me be ‘Lost In Forever’ and the superb closing assault
‘Death By Lightening’, with Appleton simply burning up a storm, there were
times that I needed to see if he had seven fingers on one hand as the
licks were coming thick and fast.
If you like big metal guitar and great
solo’s then this band are for you, as my bud Dave put it “their like a
young Motorhead but better looking”.
After the young guns of Fury UK it was time for the
might of Steve Grimmett to show us how the older metalheads did things,
along with Pete Newdeck on drums, on guitar and on bass they opened up in
spectacular style with ‘Karma’ from the bands excellent 'Personal Crisis' album.
Even though this was billed as Steve Grimmetts
Grim Reaper it would be hard for a man with so many albums and bands under
his belt if he didn’t put a mix of those bands material together, and
that’s what we got tonight stuff from The Steve Grimmett Band, Lionsheart
and Grim Reaper.
It was straight into
‘Wait Forever’ again from the 'Personal Crisis' opus before the band turned
back the years with the first of two Lionsheart songs ‘Portrait’, a real
touch of Melodic Metal from the boys which was quickly followed by ‘Can’t
Then is was time to really turn back the
years, some 20 in fact, to the Grim Reaper album ‘Rock You To Hell’ for the title track as the
metal was unleashed Grimmett still showed his metal
credentials with this classic, before rolling back the years even further
for ‘Wrath Of The Ripper’ from the '83 album 'See You In Hell’, although both
of these tracks were over some 20 years old, they both still are marvellous
slices of Heavy Metal and still sounded better than most of the new so
called Metal of total.
The band were really in full flow by this
time and Grimmett seemed positively joyous on stage as they went into ‘So
Cold’, then it was time for Grimmett’s nemesis track from the new album
‘Enemy’, which despite Grimmett’s pre song doubts was just supreme.
The band rounded off in great style with
Grimmett signature song ‘See You In Hell’, which rounded off another
storming set form the band who just grow and grow in my expectations after
every show. I just don’t understand why this band were not higher up on
the bill and with them touring later in the year with the Tygers of Pan
Tang this is one tour that simply can't be missed.
As well as Hanging Doll another band who
really grabbed my attention tonight and they were Liquid Sky. I’d heard
great things on the power metal forums about this band but had never had
chance to catch them live until today.
The band came on stage with little fanfare
but when they opened up their account with ‘Titan’ it was clear to me this
band were going to be something special.
New vocalist Tiffeny Joyce might have looked
like Paris Hilton but when she opened her mouth the vocals were just
magnificent as she powered through the songs with such grace it was a joy
to listen to.
The bands power metal was a mix between Within
Temptation and the new Nightwish, sound big keyboards and surging guitars
and heavy bass and drums, all the right mix to make up the perfect Power Metal
Their set carried on with the massive
‘Ghost In The Shell’ with the keys of Rick Ogden getting things underway,
who was quickly joined by the thunderous tub thumper Stuart Wright and
the excellent guitars of Jonathan Craven and Andy
Midgley, as together they
amalgamated into a powerhouse Metal force.
Again Ogden got the next song
‘Dreamstate’ underway, this is probably the bands finest song so far, it's
just superb as was the next one ‘Beyond The Divide’. This band like Hanging
Doll are bound for international stardom and don’t be surprised if both
bands feature on few Euro festivals next year when word gets round.
'Helpless' was next a song that lead singer Tiffeny
informed us was the first song she and the band had wrote together and
a more gentle refrain, which highlighted the sheer class she has a vocalist
as she can bring it down when needed as well as provide a more metal
vocal, a great find indeed.
The band continued to impress with ‘Love
Labours Lost’, a powerful assault that brought the best out of the band and
the magnificent ‘Salvation’, it was just one great song after another with this
band, who capped off the set with the mighty ‘Watch The Ocean’, another tremendous
mammoth of a song that rounded off one of the sets of the day.
After the revelation that was Liquid Sky it
would take something special to top that and disappointedly this never
occurred. As second on the bill I was expecting something rather special
from Stairway but alas I wasn’t impressed. There were much better bands
lower down on the bill that out played them by far.
I was willing to give the band the benefit
of the doubt as organiser Steve was seen wearing one of their tee shirts
so I persevered.
The band were Classic Heavy Metal through
and through with just a touch of Christian Metal thrown in me suspects,
there were a couple of silver linings in the clouds, tracks like ‘Under The Gun’, ‘Walk Away’ and
'Soldiers of Heaven’ were relatively heart warming
but Graeme Leslie’s voice reminded me of a Heavy Metal Ian Anderson sort
of Folk Metal.
Sorry but this band simply weren’t my cup of tea
at all, maybe I was expecting so much after the great sets of Hanging
Doll, Liquid Sky and Steve Grimmett and maybe the tech problems the band
sustained tainted the review, I don’t know!
Now to the headline act Blitzkrieg, a band
who will not lie down and die, as long as frontman Brian Ross still has a
breath Blitzkrieg will reign on godfathers of British Heavy Metal.
Although originally a
based band, the band like many of their kind have seen numerous incarnations
of the band with only Ross still flying the flag of the original line-up.
Now they're largely a Newcastle based band mainly due to members Ken Johnson, Guy Laverick, Paul and Gary Brewis.
The band came on stage to the intro
‘Inferno’ then it was straight down to business with ‘The Phantom’ as Ross
the original "Man In Black" stood centre stage as Johnson and Laverick
whipped up a metal storm.
The band let the metal do the talking as
it was straight into ‘I’m Not Insane’ from the bands 1992 opus 'Ten' before
returning to the bands latest album 'Theatre of the Damned' for the title
track, a real heavy bass line from Brewis made this one rather
It was metal all the way with ‘Dark City’
and ‘Into The Light’ with all eyes of Laverick and Johnson as the pair
were just fired up as they spewed out the licks.
After the frenzied opening assault it was
time to slow things down a little with ‘My Life Is My Own’ and ‘Escape
From The Village’, before powering back up with ‘Tortured Souls and the
massive ‘Hell Express’.
It was time for Ross to roll back the
years to his Satan days with ‘Trial By Fire’ before rounding off the set
and the weekend with a true classic ‘Blitzkrieg’. The clock had run out and alas no encore
for the band but they did whip up a storm worthy of any headline Metal act
and rounded off a great weekend.
Can’t wait for Swansea next year!