Live Review : SOS Festival, Prestwich on July 13th 2019

Another mad dash up the motorway for me, and much to my delight I managed to catch all bar the first song of openers Hell’s Gazelles. They are a young band from Oxfordshire who play traditional metal – big riffs and soaring vocals abound. There’s been a line-up change since I saw them last but stalwarts Nate (guitar) and Cole (vocal) are still holding the whole thing together nicely.

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Live Review : SOS Festival, Prestwich on July 12th 2019

This year sees the 12th edition of Manchester’s SOS (School’s Out for Summer) Festival, and it will be the 5th one I have attended. The festival was originally envisioned by Lynne Hampson from Rocksector Records to be a family-friendly indoor gig. It continues on that basis to the present day, providing a platform for local bands whilst also adding some national and international acts into the mix.

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Live Review : KISS @ MEN Arena, Manchester on July 12th 2019

I spent a considerable part of my childhood in Norway. In the late seventies, there was a craze amongst the Norwegian kids to collect KISS trading cards. I was transfixed by these otherworldly comic book like characters. Resplendent in leather, steel with black and white face paint, they captured my imagination like nothing before. They didn't look like the drab rock stars I was used to seeing on telly, they felt more like super heroes. Pretty soon, I had developed a life long obsession with the band. I stayed true during the lean non-make up eighties (Hell! I even bought “Hot in the Shade”).

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Live Review : The Infernal Sea + Necronautical + Burial + Ba'al @ The Outpost, Liverpool on July 11th 2019

I know Black Metal has an obsession with Satan and his dominion, but the authenticism seems to have been taken to another level tonight as the Outpost is so hot that you truly feel like you are in the very bowls of hell. This evening the smoking area has become a place of sanctuary where heat exhausted revellers go for air, before diving back into the all-consuming unbearable cauldron of undiluted heat that is the performance area. 

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Live Review : Tech-Fest UK on July 4th and 5th 2019

As I jump out of the taxi at Newark Showground it immediately feels like I’ve never left from twelve months earlier. This is only my second trip to Tech-Fest UK, but already I can say it feels like returning home when you enter through the main entrance. It’s a festival that genuinely creates a feeling of welcoming, inclusion, passion and dedication. And lots of technically impressive Metal musicianship. Lots. Add in some great on-stage performers, enough merch to sink a battleship, plenty of booze and you’ve got what is now my favourite festival. First seen in 2012 (and at Newark Showground since 2014), the not-for-profit festival has only been possibly thanks to the tireless devotion of founder Simon Garrod and his annually returning group of volunteers.

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Live Review : Carach Angren + Wolfheart + Thy Antichrist + Nevalra @ Rebellion, Manchester on July 3rd 2019

Black Metal was always about bringing the theatrics and the mysticism back to Heavy Metal. In many ways, it was a reaction to how the stripped back nature of Grunge temporarily took away our Music’s escapism and other-worldliness. The Norwegian founding fathers were brought up on KISS, Merciful Fate and Celtic Frost, they wanted to create something that was far more immersive and engaging than four guy in jeans and t-shirts playing instruments. This was about world building and atmospherics, sculpting an entire alternative reality that their music could exist within. Tonight in Rebellion, we have a tour package that presents the best in wide-screen Black Metal. This is the real deal, larger than life performances, corpse paint all over the shop and enough Satanism to put even Alex Crowley off. 

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Live Review : Gojira + Rolo Tomassi + Dead Label @ O2 Apollo, Manchester on July 1st 2019

I fell in love with Gojira back at Bloodstock 2010 and from the moment that I first clapped eyes on them I knew that they were doing something really rather special and that they should be huge, stadium huge. Nearly a decade later it feels that my premonition is finally becoming a reality. Tonight feels like the moment that they transcended into the big league and show that they are the ordained successor to Metallica’s crown. There was something so confident and so masterful about this evening’s performance, very much the hallmarks of a band completely in control of their own destiny. The Apollo is heaving, absolutely heaving and even though they were part of the same touring cycle, there is a clear difference between tonight and their 2017 Manchester Academy show. I had been worried that at the Academy that they were stalling, that the fevered audience reaction that I had expected for a band that had created one of the greatest Metal albums ever (“Magma”) was not materialising.

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Live Review : Primordial Presents.... Those Damn Crows + Ravenface + As Sirens Fall + Sertraline @ Rebellion, Manchester on June 29th 2019

Music, gigging and writing about the first two for ROCKFLESH are my escapes from work. However tonight was a bizarre experience that saw my two worlds inexplicably collide. You see this is no gig, this is a celebration of the dynamic community of like minded individuals that has been created by the fledgling Primordial radio. As part of the celebration, and also evidence that us, metalheads wear our hearts on our sleeveless battle vest, this is also a charity fundraiser on behalf of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and Manchester Mind, the latter of whom I work for. All of which leads to the bizarre experience of being able to head to a work event in my Slayer shorts.

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Live Review : Combichrist + The Alacrity + Sinnergod + Auger @ Academy 3, Manchester on June 28th 2019

Hay fever sucks. Well technically, having a grass pollen allergy is really awkward and annoying. It’s especially true when you’re off to an early doors four band gig. Ok, ok, just a fortnight ago, I was moaning about the rain in the North West, but I wouldn’t be British if I wasn’t moaning about something, right? The joy of a muggy, humid night is that Academy 3 is only as sweltering as outside tonight, rather than being a crazy sweatbox of its own making. I don’t know if it’s my imagination but this venue doesn’t seem to be used as much as it used to be, which is a shame as it certainly has its own unique layout, capacity and atmosphere.

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Live Review : Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequins + Bad Dog @ The Tivoli, Buckley on June 21st 2019

There’s a very famous comedy show that gave us the now immortal line “and now for something completely different” and that’s what I’m expecting tonight.

First up, we have local band Bad Dog, who I have seen several times before but not recently. So the different thing about them is that they have improved. Immensely. I recall a young band whose enthusiasm way outstripped their talent, and what I got tonight was a badass blues-rock band with a distinct twinge of Southern boogie about them.

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Live Review : Download Festival on June 16th 2019

Sundays at festivals are usually greeted with mixed emotions; sadness that it is almost over and adulation that within twenty four hours you can have a hot bath and use a real toilet. I had planned on starting my Sabbath with much feted Glaswegian pop-rockers Lost in Stereo, however less than two tracks in, I decide that they are far too light and frothy for 11.00 am on a Sunday. Their syrupy Weezer like melodies are a bit like nursing a hangover with camomile tea as opposed to nuclear strength coffee, so I abandon them to seek more abrasive stimulation. Sorry Guys.

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Live Review : Download Festival on June 15th 2019

And we awake to blazing sunshine and blue skies. It’s like Wednesday and Thursday never happened and the only sign of the atrocious conditions earlier in the week is the liquid mud all over the campsites. Today is the day that Download brings the heavy as we get the most Metal main stage bill for many years. 

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Live Review : Download Festival on June 14th 2019

Most reviews you will read of this year’s Download Festival will be from journalists who stayed in off-site hotels and who spent a predominate amount of their time on site in the distinctly less muddy press aware. ROCKFLESH is a site of the people, by the fans for the fans, so therefore no such luxury for us. We humped our gear from the sodden swamps of West car park with the rest of you, we spent hours trying to fit three sizable tents into a piece of grass no bigger than a postage site as you all did, we cursed the fact that we seemed to be camped directly at the end of the runaway as everyone else did and we yomped through the mudapocoalaypse brown quokemire that the Village had become with the everyone else.

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Live Review : Magnum + Theia @ Parr Hall, Warrington on June 13th 2019

I’ve known Theia for a while now, but I have a confession to make – I’m still not 100% certain of the correct way to pronounce their name! Thay-a? Thee-arh? Thy-ah? Nope, not a clue. Which makes it a bit difficult to tell people in person how good they are if I’m honest. They are a young 3-piece outfit from the Midlands. Guitarist Kyle and bassist Paul have been the mainstay of the band over the last 7 years, because they have a bit of a Spinal Tap thing going on with drummers. There have been a few, although to the best of my knowledge none of them have actually exploded yet.

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Live Review : Bad Wolves + RedHook + In Search Of Sun @ Academy 2, Manchester on June 13th 2019

Doing gig reviews in the North West of England does mean that travel and the weather are frequent battles, but not even I expect to be nervously checking the National Rail website (other train information websites are available) in June. It finally stops raining though and, unlike at the Heart Of A Coward gig the previous week, I turn up to the venue resembling a human rather than a drowned rat.

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Live Review : Midnite City + Devilfire + Atlas @ Eleven, Stoke on June 6th 2019

I love Eleven as a venue, it’s a cracking place. Total pain in the bum to get to in time for a gig start on a week night though! However, I persevered and best efforts of the M6 notwithstanding, I managed to get there in time to see all the bands. This was just as well, as tonight’s bill was a bit of an epic.

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Live Review : Heart Of A Coward + Any Given Day + Lock & Key @ Rebellion, Manchester on June 4th 2019

I’ve finished my pre-gig interview with Heart Of A Coward frontman Kaan Tasan (see the interview here), and now find myself stood in the gig queue in the pouring rain. Pouring doesn’t do it justice really, as it is absolutely thrashing it down. We shuffle ever closer towards the door until the welcoming heat of Rebellion wraps its arms around us and drags us in. Every last person who makes their way through the door looks like a drowned rat, but to a person when they see the Heart Of A Coward backdrop and merchandise table their faces light up.

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Live Review : Fit For An Autopsy + Venom Prison + Vulvodynia + Justice For The Damned @ Rebellion, Manchester on June 2nd 2019

This tour is a true barometer of where the extreme end of heavy music find itself in 2019. You have four bands that share a love of Death Metal but present that central influence in four highly distinctive ways, you have four continents represented, you have a diverse crowd made up of a cross section of extreme music's many distinct tribes (with scissor-kicking hardcore kids and head nodding trad-metallers both out in force) and you have a pretty decent turnout for a Sunday night where every single act gets an appreciative pit and their lyrics screamed back at them. Overall this feels much more like a package tour of acts of a similar stature as opposed to a headliner and an undercard of also ran's, there only to make up numbers.

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