Home Gigs Gig Review : Hard Rock Hell 2021 – Saturday Day 3

Gig Review : Hard Rock Hell 2021 – Saturday Day 3

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Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM


Saturday morning at Great Yarmouth and the sun decided to show up again as seagulls the size of small cars strut around the campsite. Emerging from the late-night reveries, the assembled masses started gathering for another day of loud guitars, communal singing and the embracing of old friends and new.

It was a double hit of Southern Rock to start the day on Stage one as both Sons of Liberty and Nitroville warmed up the crowds in finger lickin’ style. SoL bring a full-on and hot-blooded blues style to their swamp dwelling tales, a heavy metallic crunch that mixes Molly Hatchett with Metallica.

There’s a toughness in tracks like ‘It’s My Bad’ and ‘Damaged Reputation’ that speaks of years on the road, a grizzled, but never world weary, determination to get the very best out of each song, conjuring spirits from the hazy and sticky heat. Elongated epic ‘Into The Great Unknown’ is their own ‘Freebird’ and they follow this up with the dirty but hilarious rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Beef Jerky Boogie’ and the raging ‘Fire and Gasoline’, showing there’s much more to Sons of Liberty than a lot of bands of their ilk. With the wild, shamen-like figure of Rob Cooksley leading them, the Sons kick up a storm of epic proportions and imbue it with a sense of Gothic verve as well as the granite hard riffing.

There’s a ferocious hunger to Nitroville as they well and truly fire up their engines for a supercharged drag race along the dusty highways, long months of not being unable to tour being released in one huge roar as they take the stage with relish.

The London based rockers are grounded in more of a ‘traditional style’ of Southern Rock than SoL, the twin guitar work singing a heavy, but distinctly less feral, tune that their West Country counterparts, meaning that there’s a nice contrast between the two bands. Instead of the swamps of the South, Nitroville roam the stifling deserts, the heat haze coming from the scorched tarmac as they tear into numbers like ‘Apophis 2029’, ‘Spitfire’ and ‘Danger Zone’.

For all the heads-down rockers there’s plenty to get their teeth into here but the band are equally adept at showing their slower, bluesy side in such atmospheric fayre as ‘Dark Texas’, singer Tola Lamont’s soulful wail nailing the feel of those mysterious lands.

With the sort of arena filling riffs and huge choruses of acts like Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry, Ryders Creed are a band on the rise, drawing ever larger audiences and gaining a lot of airplay. Ballsy and brave opener ‘Unleashed’ sets their stall out from the offset, full of a defiant swagger, the insistent guitar of Myles Cooper scythes through the air and decimates all it touches.

Frontman Ryan Anthony’s vocals can go from a gentle coaxing to a blast of volcanic heat in an instant and is particularly impressive on ‘Hand In Hand’ and ‘Memories’, his vocal dexterity controlled but forceful, giving nuance to the lyrics. As the quartet pile into ‘Cut Me Down’ and ‘Money’, their modern hard rock spiked with a definite metallic edge sounds like something that Mark Tremonti would dream up in a fevered dream, their aim to reach the biggest stages there for all to see. With the musical firepower and song writing ability like this, it looks like that ambition is not just in their grasp but as much as a done deal as fate allows.

Piston are the epitome of a modern rock band soaked in the atmosphere and licks of the 70’s giants, bringing together both worlds in one heady mix. With an arsenal of massive tracks that bring the easy charm of Bad Company with the crunch of AC/DC at their dirtiest, the band can light a fire even on a cold and damp Saturday in an English seaside town.

Heavyweight brawlers ‘Dynamite’, ‘Let Us Rise’ and ‘Rainmaker’ are fuelled by the twin guitar work of Jack Edwards and Luke Allatt, the pair seemingly displaying some sort of psychic link onstage as they swung themselves and their axes around, lost in the music as Stuart Egan’s bass and the drums of Brad Newlands drove the groove deeper and harder.

Up front and centre, Rob Angelico took command of the stage, exuding a wild charisma that brought to mind a cross between Jim Morrison’s sensuality and Axl Rose’s fire, his take on ‘Proud Mary’ a fine way to finish the set. Whilst there were obviously issues onstage and the band lacked a little of the usual spark they display, it was still a hypnotic performance and one that shows that nothing will keep them down.

Review by Gary Spiller for MPM

South Wales’ answer to the Sunset Strip explosion of the 80s strut onto the HRH stage. Tigertailz, make no mistakes,are here to party hard but matters don’t quite go to plan as an over-efficient smoke detector takes a dislike to the dry ice employed and promptly shuts down all the important electrical circuits. A near half hour delay is, however, worth it and for a glorious hour Tigertailz tear up the boards and give the packed out main arena a sleaze-ridden, bourbon-soaked romp. It’s loud, it’s most certainly proud and above all else it’s trashy, brash glam rock n’ roll with more than a dash of LA.

It’s a set that leans heavily towards their 1990 sophomore long player ‘Bezerk’; the ‘Tailz’ commercial summit and probably their most renown album. Eight bombastic tracks are harvested from it’s still gleaming vaults and the punchy, catchy chorus of set opener ‘Sick Sex’ has one and all singing in unison. Through the dirty, gritty ‘I Can Fight Dirty (or is it Berty?) Too’ via the Poison-infused ‘Twist and Shake’ right through to the storming closing track ‘Love Bomb Baby’ it’s been an absolute blast. The spirit of Pepsi Tate looks on with pride.

With a hugely successful career spanning across 30 plus years Bradford’s very own Terrorvision are, nowadays, firmly cementing, alongside fellow 90s rock outfits Therapy? and The Wildhearts, themselves as festival favourites. Following the massive

influential crater left by the grunge movement, that came hurtling out of the Pacific North West, bands like Terrorvision, clambered out of that sizeable impact zone investing in a more stripped back, on the streets approach to rock.

An absolutely riotous 80 minutes set with an eye-watering 22 highly-flammable tracks is demonstrative of such. Featuring a round dozen of their hit singles – achieved during an eight year purple patch between 1993 and 2001 – are aired alongside newer offerings and album favourites; a perfect mix for a festival set. It’s wall-to-wall high-octane mayhem with the punky ‘Discotheque Wreck’ ensuring a fast-paced kick-off.

A blistering momentum that is capably maintained right through to set closing masterpiece ‘Perseverance’, what a glorious thing to hear the HRH faithful singing “Whales and dolphins!” In between, as the structurally damaging riffs create havoc, it’s asked ‘Alice What’s The Matter?’ and with plentiful “Ooh wop bop ba doo wop” perennial live favourite ‘Oblivion’ poses camping based enquiries whilst ‘Tequila’ by the veritable barrel-load is offered around. Boys and girls let this be notice as to what occurs when an overload of caffeine is fed to the gremlins in the post-midnight hours!

The amassed horde bounces as one as rightful homage is paid to one of rock’s finest in new track ‘The Night Lemmy Died’ which holds up well alongside the older, established material. As does the ska-tinted riffs of ‘Go Jerry’ a brave but most worthwhile divergence. With a typical industrious Yorkshire approach Terrorvision have torn HRH a brand, spanking and sparkly new one that leaves the entirety catching their breath; it’s been a wondrous smash and grab!

A darkened stage, white spots flash as AC/DC’s anthemic ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ hammers out an intro for doom / stoner metal merchants Orange Goblin. Perhaps considered an unlikely replacement for Skid Row it’s to the Goblin’s collective credit that they put on an absolutely storming set that is deserving of their headline slot.

There’s the immediate Sabbath-esque darkness of the riffs and the powerful Motorhead-level of the thundering delivery. However there are delightful delicate strains of the likes of Hawkwind entwined about set opener ‘Solarsphere’ and the deliciously subtle progressive hints that veer in the direction of Maiden during the hard-galloping ‘Saruman’s Wish’.

Dark as the underwing of the treacherous raven ‘The Ballad Of Solomon Eagle’, lifted from recent release ‘Healing Through Time’, archane spirits incant an apocalyptic spell. The raven, upon the wing, utters a throaty, hoarse ‘kraa-kraa’ the incantation is complete; the castle walls will fall to the siege.

The cracks in the defensive perimeter appear as ‘Sons Of Salem’ pulverises and crushes all in their path. Annilhation and mass mutilation as the hordes rise from the grave.

Abruptly man-mountain vocalist Ben Ward brings a halt to proceedings; the high-energy mosh pit has bore witness to a head injury and the venue is cleared to allow the medical teams to attend to the injured party. Full kudos to Ward and his compatriots for spotting and acting so effectively.

Thankfully the injuries sustained are not as serious as initially feared and The Goblin return to the stage for a triple salvo to ensure ‘They Come Back (Harvest Of Skulls)’ isn’t their set-closer a status that is bestowed upon the frenetic doom-laden riffing of ‘Red Tide Rising’. A hardcore nucleus of an estimated 30 or so fans are presented a stadium-worthy ‘encore’. A defiant ending to a festival that has defied the odds.

Stage 2

Review by Gary Spiller for MPM

The spirit of Largs, 1263, has been awoken. Northern clansmen gather atop the barren, windswept ridge. There’s a high-paced call to arms prior to the anticipated battle. The war-cry rings out across the peat-moors and craggy mountains; a deep, hard roaring beast strides out across the lands. The Lords of Ruin have landed and are taking no prisoners. Driven from their northern lands they now seek recompense.

Their weapon of choice? It’s a metalliferous wrecking ball of rock n’ roll. Flattening that of the past and laying to wasteland as they reduce rock to dust with their collective energy. Gritty and growling set-opener ‘What’s Left’ sets about restoring the balance in fine style before rolling right into the supercharged ‘In From The Cold’. This five-piece mean business; prisoners won’t be taken such is the fury. Amongst the maelstrom there is control and nuance; the world will be torn apart with precision.

Crepuscular specters flood in from an ethereal plane as ‘Man I Am’ with it’s oh-so neat solo captivates. ‘Walk The Line’ is the provision of absolution a touch redolent of Wasp’s ‘Forever Free’. In front of what is their largest crowd to date, according to vocalist Dox, the Lords of Ruin have conquered and captured hearts and minds alike with their fine virtuoso performance.

The nitro-fuelled pack roars along the dusty freeway. Chrome gleams as mayhem sparks into a ravaging life in their wake. A darkened boondocks town is reached and the skeletal horde dismounts. The neighbourhood will be theirs shortly; awakening with the sunrise to a different dawn. The five bastard offspring of the Priest and the Maiden have hit town; their collective name? Conjuring Fate.

‘Burn The Witch’ kicks off their set with a fast and furious metallic coven-awakening rumble. A much anticipated ‘Journey’s End’ has been reached. It’s now the time for ‘Night of Knives’ with its Maiden-esque stylings neatly enveloped in a layer of Helloween.

House On The Haunted Hill’ emancipates the dead; reborn the undead walk the aranaceous land. The Maiden is aligned with the Priest; a religious reversal has taken place. Demonic spirits have stirred, conjuration is complete. ‘No Escape’ is an apt ending with a foretelling, beyond debate, of the fate of the township. Very much in the vein of Absolva this anthemic track brings the metaphorical curtain down upon a fine set.

Hailing from Liverpool hard rocking quartet King Voodoo bring their darkened hard rock that bites with a dogged determination. Accompanied by an oft-bluesy swagger this is an outfit who tender in the chunkier side of rock. Thinking in terms of chocolate this is more a Yorkie bar as opposed to a Ferrero Rocher!

‘Raise Your Hands’ is a dirty riffing track that howls at the midnight moon which is followed up by ‘Plain To Me’. Imagine the melding of Nickelback with the grittier elements of grunge and you’re heading in the right sort of direction. A full-blooded rocked-up cover of ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ quite literally floors a couple of the band with the bassist Lee Jones and guitarist / vocalist Jamie Suffield ending up horizontal. A pounding drum intro is paralleled with a driving bass with the resultant output providing a solid foundation for the chunky riffs and howling vocals of ‘Drag Me To The Water’.

Awakened for sure King Kraken are unleashed upon the masses gathered afront the second stage. Now firmly upon the NWOCR radar following their third placing at 2019s HRH Highway To Hell in Sheffield the industrious nature of this hard-punching Welsh quintet has seen their profile, deservedly, rise. Krakens’ material is as fiery as the furnaces of the Welsh steelworks possessing a comparable metallic strength to the finished product that rolls out of the mills.

‘Chaos Engine’ is the perfect showcase of what KK is all about; dark, brooding lyrics brought to fire-breathing life by the rock-crushing vocals of Mark Donoghue with Pete Rose and Adam Healey’s six-string riffing summoning demons from the depths all atop thunderous beats from bassist Karl Meyer and drummer Richard Mears. There are delicate moments amongst the powerhouse output to provide a tasty counterpoint. Think Clutch and Slayer thrown into the melting pot; the resultant molten alloy being what heavyweight ‘Freak’ is all about.

With the roaring ferocity of an exploding volcano ‘War Machine’ sets about total destruction with a resounding cannonade that reverberates across wide tracts of the Norfolk countryside and out over the troubled waters of the North Sea.

Rumbling thunder rolls down the steep-sided valley as the frenetically driven ‘Castle Of Bone’ brings a rampantly successful 40 minute set to a close in jaw-dropping fashion; with the highly-merited Malmsteen-esque solo catching many unawares. The Kraken abounds, the horde is wholly appreciative on a high plane.

Punters are packed in like proverbial sardines for Cambridgeshire’s False Hearts; anticipation runs high. Sadly covering the main stage means that there’s only time enough to watch the opening trio of tracks from this much-vaunted outfit. However it’s more than sufficient to draw the rock-solid conclusion that this is a band that is going to take-off in a huge manner.

Opening track ‘Break’ has a tasty, crisp feel to it with the to-die-for vocals of Emma Hodgson having a redolence of Dolores O’Riordan. It’s soaring, powerful material and rightfully brings the house down.

The pseudo-Celtic vibrancy of ‘Take Control’, like the set-opener, is taken off 2018s ‘Dirty Little Soul’ EP. It’s captivating throughout from the very first note to the fading of the final one. Knowing this is a band worthy of more thorough coverage it’s personally heart-breaking that driving riffs of ‘Dream On’ is as far as this particular encounter with this hugely talented quartet will go on this occasion.

Attentions are now turned across to the main stage safe in the knowledge that the new crop of bands on the second stage have delivered once again.

Photography by Pete Key for MPM

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