LIVE REVIEW: HRH: Metal - Day 2, O2 Academy - Birmingham

Day two of HRH Metal dawns upon us and a temperature drop greets us in Birmingham. The frost won’t put a dampener in today’s festivities however. A stunning second day line-up is topped off with Memoriam and Grave Digger. 


But to start proceedings we are back down on stage number three for local hero’s Devil’s Playground. The sextet are going strong following last years Bloodstock and Midland Metal Crusade performances and they haven’t stopped there. The dual male/female vocal combo works exceedingly well, a growling death metal snarl accompanied by the striking singing voice of Leanne gives this band the edge. Delivering full on heavy metal with a twist, Devil’s Playground show the fans in this smaller stage just how good a product

they have.

Fire Red Empress open the main rage today, riding high on the back of their critically acclaimed album release last year. Snarling riffs drive this act but the vocal performance of Jennifer Diehl gives the band its edge. Hauntingly powerful in delivery, her voice fills the room with a fiery temperament that is insatiable. However, my highlight of the set is a fantastic take on the Beastie Boys Sabotage.


Back down to stage three and it’s another of The Revivals favourite bands The Mighty Wraith. I seem to have used the term “Iron Maiden inspired” a lot in this weekend’s review but that really does best describe the Wraith boys. Matt Gore the enigmatic frontman puts on a stunner of a show all by himself, an outstanding vocal range matched by his on-stage persona. But let’s not forget the rest of the band, the recent expansion to dual guitars has expanded the band’s sound and the solid back line of Muzz and Andrew Kirby push the bands performance to the next level, so much so they are by far the best band of the day on this stage.


Following on Kaine deliver their own brand of NWOBHM inspired metal. Electrifying metal riffs, fast and ferocious. The last time I covered these lads was roughly three years ago and at the time they looked like a rabbit in the headlights but they have grown much since then. Now putting on a solid performance, they have belief in themselves and this shines through. 


Lifer open the second stage for day two and he room is packed. The wizards of Welsh stoner/doom bring a heavy as hell wall of sound mixed with dry humour to affairs. Scriv’s drawl is an enthralling sound that drags you into their music. For fans of the genre Lifer deliver the best doomy performance of the festival.


The energy comes in abundance from the main stage as Power Quest hold court. Chants of “Power Quest,

Power Quest” drown out radio HRH as we await their arrival, but when they do they burst onto the stage with the energy of a toddler on a sugar rush. The band feed off the fan reception and blaze through a stunning hour long set of complex guitar wizardry and symphonic metal undertones. 


From the ashes of two of Birmingham’s most extreme bands, Bolt Thrower and Benediction, has risen a new behemoth... Memoriam. Led by vocal legend Karl Willets they grind and growl their way through over an hour of the most extreme music we’ve heard all weekend. The old-school death metal sound forged in the foundries if the Black Country comes bounding through, Frank Healy’s crushing baseline vibrating you to the core. The band many a punter this weekend has been waiting for, they do not fail to deliver. Dark lyrical content backed by Willets gritty vocals is a sublime mix producing that classic death metal sound he members of his band are famous for.


Following a quick turn around the evening, and indeed he weekend, is drawn to a close with heavy metal legends Grave Digger. Just as you would expect from a German metal band the show theatrics are through the roof. Introduced on stage by a skeletal figure, the lycra clad four-piece step back into the 1980’s with an all out rock and roll show. From the opening of Healed by Metal front man Chris Boltendahl runs the stage in a whirl of energy. Guitars roar through Lawbreaker and Witch Hunter, Axel Ritt’s solo work exquisite putting on the ultimate fret work display in the process. Without a doubt the group are having the group are having the time of the lives and the fans are enjoying it just as much. The set is rounded out with classic Heavy Metal Breakdown.


The HRH brand is one that keeps on giving, throughout all of their weekend showpieces. This year’s “Metal” weekender highlighted smaller groups right though to headline acts. And each room from midday through to midnight was packed each day. If you’re looking for a break from the drudgery of real life and to lose yourself in the music, Hard Rock Hell are offering plenty more chances to do just that this year!







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