LIVE REVIEW! Ashen Crown - O2 Academy, Birmingham

July 10, 2018

It’s been far too long since The Revival sampled the delights of the world that is the Birmingham unsigned metal scene. So we arrive at tonight Ovation Music Management showcase full of high expectation. The team at Ovation always put on one hell of a show perfectly matching bands to provide a stellar line up of metal entertainment.

 

Tonight Ashen Crown headline the event. It’s a little over a year since the band played their first ever show at a similar showcase and that evening they blew us away. Ever since they have been on a fast trajectory to stardom having played Bloodstock and supported behemoths such as Memoriam and Obituary. Now with their own headline show they can really come into their own.

 

First up on a bill of six bands are Nottingham brethren Pemphigoid. Delivering crushing riffs with a hint of something darker, more evil. The three piece destroy with a blisteringly heavy baseline and guttural vocals from Ash. A delight to the senses and a thoroughly enjoyable 30 minutes.

 

Next up are Suffering, offering a mix of dark, eerie black metal. The scene is set with deep red lighting oozing from behind and dry ice filling the room with a sense of dread. Four men clad in monks tunics enter the stage to the beat of a creepy cowbell. Atmospheric is the word, the visuals set the scene and the music does the talking. Sensually dark and foreboding goodness and not bad at all for a band playing their very first show.

 

As the smoke clears Black Country sludge masters King Corpse take to the stage. They fluctuate between out and out sludge and a little softer stoner rock. You can hear the inspirations of Sabbath and Orange Goblin in their riffs, guitarist James Pearson has the look, feel and playing ability of a young Joe Hoare. Much needed relief after the previous atmospheric ensemble, they bring energy and monstrous sounds to the stage and a heavy dose of riffing majesty.

 

Stepping up to the plate next are Brummie stoners Flex Bison, and I’ll be honest, I’m blown away. This is balls to the wall heavy f*cking rock and roll. The three piece are driven by fast, raunchy as hell riffs and gritty vocals which occasionally have a little hint of country. For half an hour our faces are melted by the pace that they deliver their brand of heavy music. It’s wonderful to see and best band of the evening so far, but there are still two more to come!

 

The Face of Ruin are a melodic death metal outfit that have been slowly building a big local following. In the sweat box that is the O2 Academy 3 tonight they dispel the usual image of such a band and bring the death metal beach party to these shores. Dressed in Hawaiian shirts they launch beach balls into the crowd as they start their set. As the balls bounce around the pit Alex Mumford’s screams echo around the room. Thrash fueled fast riffs from new guitarist (former Gehtika man) Topher O’Meagher abound as they set about destroying the place. The light hearted take they have on life brings an entertaining element to the show, Mumford’s quips between songs lighten the mood of the terrific genre beating set. 

 

As the evening draws to a close Ashen Crown are due to take to the stage. The Revival have followed this band since the beginning and it’s wonderful to see them headline a show in their home town, for which they’ve drawn quite the crowd! Watching frontman Kieran grow into the leader he is now has been quite the trip. A little over a year ago he nervously took centre stage for his first ever show in any band, now he has visibly developed into a commanding leader, prowling the stage vocals delivered with ferocity and aggression.

 

The band play through the best part of an hour, thrashy riffs and heavy bass make up the new death metal sound the band are forging. A first, for me at least, a circle pit forms full of fans sword fighting (literally), unsheathed weapons waved in the air with glee. Ste and Jay’s guitar sound slices through the air, giving the band their edge, whilst Chris and Phil keep them in check, heavy, grounded and raw brutality.

 

Ashen Crown have come here with the aim to entertain tonight, but they’ve done more than that. Sword fights aside, the band grow tighter and more assured every time we have the pleasure of watching them take to the stage. The future of British death metal is here, now, in this small sweaty room in Birmingham.

 

 

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