Festival: SOS Festival 2014 (Day One)

Bands: Absolva, Savage Messiah, Monument, Lord Volture, Asylum City Zoo, Eternal Breath, Bloodyard, God Damn Electric, The Idol Dead

Venue: Radcliffe Civic Hall, Radcliffe, Manchester

Date: 19 July 2014



Now in its seventh year, for many S.O.S Festival marks the beginning of Summer and this year's line-up was one of the most diverse and compelling, as Rocksector Records impresario Mark Appleton once again brought together some of hottest new talent around, as well as many household names, all under the one roof over two very hot and very humid days, for lashings of blistering Hard Rock and Metal. 

Day One of this year's festival opened up for us with Leeds based The Idol Dead.  Lead by the effervescent frontman Polly Phluid, this quintet set about delivering one of my favourite sets of Day One with their no-nonsense Punk with plenty of Soul.

Opening up with a waste no time rocker, the band obviously had a mindset for the day of hit 'em hard, hit 'em fast and leave them wanting more.

And that’s exactly what they did, every song hit the mark as the set continued with the storming ‘Six Feet Under’.  Even when Tim broke stuff on stage (guitar strings), the band never missed a beat, as they stormed through with ‘The Summer That Never Was’ and the definite crowd favourite ‘Travellin Man’.  The band really set the festival alight and definitely won a fair few more fans than they started out with today, us included, and with their 3rd album due out later this year, the band are definitely one of the bands to watch out for in 2014/15.  

After the high octane rock n' roll it was time for a little acoustic interlude as the God Damn Electric entertained on the acoustic stage, before the savage metal assault that was Bloodyard who led by the angsty vocal might of Donna Hurd, delivered a monstrous attack on the senses. As the Lancastrians hit the stage running with 'Set To Fall' and 'Reclaim', before the massive 'Hellbound'.  

At one point during 'Hellbound' Hurd disappeared off stage joined the crowd, then ventured out of the main hall into the foyer and beyond, drumming up the crowd and like the pied piper and brought forth a multitude of metalheads to gorge on their hard hitting metal.  The punishing metal assault continued with 'Epitaph' and continued through to the dark 'Dead Relics'.  Although this wasn’t my usual cup of tea, Hurd was just unbelievable.  She showed today that female fronted Heavy Metal isn’t all big hair and leather shoulder pads, this girl can stand up with the best of the male frontmen any day.  

It was back to the acoustic stage for round two from the God Damn Electric before returning to the Dean Hocking stage for Belgium’s Eternal Breath, led by founding members Andy Polfliet and guitarist Marino Decaluwe.  Although Polfliet started out as guitarist in the band, he now fronts these Belgium metallers, along with Brecht Debrouwere on bass and Kenny Geerts on drums.

They opened up their account after the massive intro with 'Vengeance For Our Disrespect’ and continued to deliver that typical Euro Metal big riffing sound with the likes of ‘The Joker’, the trash infused ‘Shadows Of The Dark’ and 'Mass Domination', before rounding things off with ‘Your Pissing Me Off’, which despite the all ages crowd Polfiet had the crowd showing the middle finger in their masses.  

Next up on the main stage were Asylum City Zoo and judging by the number of people donning their t-shirts, this band had a few fans in the crowd.  Considering the band had only in its just formed at the start of 2013, this was a good sign for any band.

The band led by lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Mark, aided and abetted by Rishi on lead guitar, Tom on drums and the man of many hats, Bobb (and beard) on bass guitar, delivered as solid set of modern heavy metal.

Driven by the bass toting Bobb, the band set about their task delivering solid no nonsense Heavy METAL with the set taken from the debut EP, with frontman Mark's vocals the perfect for this style of metal.  Moody yet sonically superb.  With Bobb donning different hats for different songs, he will need a larger wardrobe once the band release a full length album.  Like The Idol Dead, one of the bands of the day.  

Now one band who REALLY impressed on day one were the next band Lord Volture from the Netherlands, who delivered old school metal as it should be, with more than a nod to early Judas Priest right down to front man David Marcels black vest top and leather pants.  The six string twin guitars of Paul Marcels and Leon Hermans providing a twin guitar attack, which was married with the bombastic rhythm section of Simon Geurts on bass and Frank Wintermans on drums.

The band brought the big guns out today as they opened up with 'Where The Enemy’s Sleep’, then it was straight into ‘Tiaga’, taken from their 2011 album 'Never Cry Wolf’, featuring a great slice of twin guitar driven metal, before continuing with 'Wendigo', another stunning track from 'Never Cry Wolf.  Frontman David stooding centre stage while delivering a mighty vocal, all the while the twin guitars kept that Priest feel about things at fever pitch.

With a new album due out later this year it was time for a sample of things to come, with the massive ‘Taklamakan’ and the equally impressive ‘Line Em Up’.  If this is the quality of Metal coming out of the Netherlands then long may it continue.  I you like your metal old school, no frills, riff laden and thunderous, Lord Volture are the band for you.  

Next up on the bill was the UK’s Monument.  After missing these guys as this years PPM Fest in Belgium, I was determined not miss out on them this time around.  The guys did not fail to impress as I and rest of crowd were treated to some classic Metal Brit style.

Formed in East London by frontman Peter Ellis, the bands aim was to bring back the true sound of British Heavy Metal and today the did just that.

Joining Ellis on stage were Lewis Stevens and Dan Baune on guitars, Matt C on drums and taking up the bass was Furyon’s Alex ‘Nickel’ Bowen stepping in for Chris Dale.

The Brits showed how it's done on this small island of ours by kicking off with the storming ‘Fatal Attack’, while  instantly Ellis began to prowl the stage like a blood hungry bulldog intent on taking no prisoners.

The rampaging metal continued with the title track off the new album ‘Renegades’, flying the flag high for British Metal and continuing to do so with the excellent ‘Carry On’, with Ellis again delivering a monster vocal.

It was then time for the title track off the 'Renegades' album, which is an all guns blazing old school riff laden metal meant for headbangers. Then it was time for one of the songs of the set, the magnificent ‘Crusaders’. It was time for Ellis to leave the stage momentarily to get his breath back, as the rest of the band went into an instrumental, before Ellis returned to the stage and together so that the band could give a rip snorting version of Deep Purples 'Black Night', in tribute the late great Jon Lord.

The band rounded off a great set in style with the stomping ‘Rock The Night’.  It may have been a few months in the waiting, but I finally got to see Monument at their very best and it's good to see the future of British Heavy Metal is in such good hands.  

Now next up was another band I really wanted to see, Melodic Thrash Metallers Savage Messiah.

The band led by guitarist/vocalist Dave Silver really set the already hot venue on fire with their unique brand of Thrash infused with classic Heavy Metal.

Opening the set in glorious fashion with the rip snorting ‘Iconocaust’, the first of many from the their 'The Fateful Dark' album, the ballistic metal continued with ‘Scavengers of Mercy’, with the twin guitars of Silver and Joff Bailey bringing back that Bay Area Thrash back with a vengeance.  The titanic riff building continued with the current single ‘Hellblazer’, which saw the pair simply burning up the fret boards, while the thunderous rhythm section of Mira Siama and Andrea Goria on bass and drums respectively, delivered a powerhouse back beat for the guitarists.

The new album's material continued with the thumping ‘Cross of Babylon’, before the title track ‘The Fateful Dark’.  This is where the guys mixed the Thrash side with their more melodic side.  This had to be my favourite song of the set.

It was back to the heads down full on Metal with the excellent ‘The Cursed Earth’, which really got all the headbangers down the front going, before carrying on with the lick laden ‘Minority Of One’.  The set closed in a blaze of glory with the title track of their ‘Insurrection Rising’ album, the only song on the setlist not taken from new album, which saw the Dark Pope himself making an appearance throughout the son and rounded off one of the standout sets of the day.  Now it was only left to the headliners to top this one.  

Well with a buzz already around the place regarding the headliners Absolva and their extended line-up for today, I was sure that Chris and the rest of the band would go for broke and they just did that.

The first thing you’d noticed tonight was the inclusion of a rhythm guitarist, who as he tuned up his guitar before the set, turned a gave a wry smile to the crowd and a cheer went out for Fury UK/Iced Earth’s Luke Appleton, who joined brother Chris, along with Martin McNee and Dan Bate, as the power trio became a power quartet and set about a fourteen song set that just blew me and rest of the crowd away.

Opening up after the intro with ‘The Devils Mouth’, which by chance is also the opening track off the new album 'Anthems of the Dead’, and instantly all the chemistry between the two brothers came rushing back.  With the pair smiling from ear-to-ear and really enjoying playing live together once again, as Chris announced ... “We are Absolva and we play Heavy Metal” ...

The set continued with 'Victimiser', another song taken from their new album and another fantastic slice of pure guitar driven Heavy Metal, before the title track off said new album, ‘Anthems of the Dead’.

It was then time for the first song from their 'Flames of Justice' album with the epic ‘Free’, which gave Chris and Luke a chance to trade licks, before returning to the new album for the barnstorming ‘Killing Season’.  Then it was back to 'Flames Of Justice' for 'From Beyond The Light’, as Chris showed us how a heavy metal guitar should be played.  

As the night rolled on it was time to unveil the second guest appearance for tonight, as none other than Saxon’s very own Doug Scarrett joined the guys on stage.  After a big thanks to everyone who helped made S.O.S. happen, it was on with the show, as the power quartet became a quintet for ‘Only When It's Over’.  Then Chris introduced Luke which got an even bigger cheer than when he introduced Doug Scarrett and it was back to the full on metal once more with another epic ‘Silent Sacrifice’.

The melodic side of the band came out with the excellent ‘Taste Of Blood’ and in true Heavy Metal style we were treated to a McNee drum solo, as the quiet man of the band unleashed pure hell on his kit, much to the enjoyment of all, which led nicely into the storming ‘Flames of Justice’.  

The time had come to unleash the mighty metal that is ‘Code Red’, before Scarrett returned to the stage for ‘Soul Remains’, as he unleashed his six string fury along with Chris and Luke.  With Absolva there is no portentousness of leaving the stage, standing in the wings and waiting for the crys of more.  This band is all about momentum and the momentum continued at break-neck speed with the excellent ‘Never Back Down’, before rounding off the set and Day One in perfect style with a Ronnie James tribute and an amazing version of 'Heaven and Hell'.  I’m sure if Ronnie was looking down he’d be giving the guys the horns, as today Metal was king.

Review by: Barry McMinn & Little Linda





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