Help For Heroes Festival IV, Fuel Rock Club Cardiff
The fourth edition of Cardiff's bi-annual all day festival for the Help For Heroes Charity rolled it's way into Fuel rock club, facing tough competition for audience with Download happening at the same time, hopes were high for a larger turnout than the previous year turnout. Arriving early it was bunting and banners a-go-go before the punters started to fill the venue, along with headliners Mordrake who arrived stupidly early and provided a drum kit for the day as they are jolly nice chaps.
With money starting to flow and the day kicking off it was up to In Requiem (7) to start the show. The 4 piece play modern rock with touches of Muse, 30 Seconds To Mars. The music is full of keening melodies and proggy tendencies that let the music breathe and drew in the crowd. The curse of being first on meant many missed a very good set, but the boys played it like they owned it to be fair there was passion on show and their stage show was pretty slick they set the pace well, In Requiem were the lightest band on the bill but they allowed for the rest of the bands to increase the volume and distortion.
Next up were Holoson (7) who play fuzzy alternative rock, they brought a healthy amount of support with them and you can see why they have a following. Their music swings between hard rock and crunching metal with some pop sensibilities. All three members great musicians with the vocals a particular draw, if you like you rock with an edge Holoson are worth a watch and the crowds were receptive with applause rippling through the small room. Next on the bill were Hereford lot Season's Hollow (7) play a very modern hybrid metal/rock; this brought the heaviness up again and maintained the crowd with fists pumping and feet tapping. Their songs ranged from heavy metal on Last Confession to the hard rocking of Broken, with sizzling solos, a wide vocal range of Joe Dawson and a soulful groove it all contributes to give Season's Hollow a lot of promise with the name of the band on most people's lips after their set.
The final three bands are where things really picked up, first were the band I was most excited to see live, having reviewed their excellent debut album recently the anticipation of seeing Chepstow stoners Beneath The Divine (8) was high and they delivered in spades. This is proper stoner metal with the band decked out in Orange Goblin, Raven's Creed T-shirts you can guess what they sound like. Kev riffing like a bastard with Tim and Barney powering through the grooves. With every head nodding in the room the bewitching stoner sounds were converting even the most po-faced of black metal fan to the cause. Jason's vocals are an ideal fit for the band delivering his lines with a confident ease. The band sounded almost exactly like they did on record but with a bit more oompf, they were the first band to really step up the show giving a noticeable change to the proceedings. Things got much heavier from here as we all turned to the darkside.
Hell fire and brimstone became the order of the day as the de-facto house band of Fuel Agrona (9) that can only be a good thing as they get better every time I see them. Their set was packed with blastbeating black fucking metal, the hour long time slot gave them enough time to conduct their Satanic rituals properly. The band are all ominous presences on stage with corpse paint and leather the uniform and the music is intensely dark with furious battery from the outset. The vocals are now shared by Taranis and Adara both excreting yelps, barks and roars as Ankou, Kreulon, Arwan and Phoenix bludgeoned with the blackest of all metal, touches of thrash and death crept in. With a non-partisan crowd in the room, there were some who had pained looks on their faces however others dove in wholeheartedly embracing the mayhem. They get better each time and were the heaviest nastiest band so far Agrona are a band well worth an hour of your time as it's black metal done right. They are touring again in July make sure you check them out.
The headliners for the evening, Bristol boys Mordrake (9), were a worthy headliner, having to follow the maelstrom of Agrona is a a tough task for any band but the self-styled 'dark melodious metal' of Mordrake was powerful enough to weather any storm. Continuing the blackened theme well Mordrake have more thrash and groove elements to their music than the straight up black that proceeded it, think more Primordial than Gorgoroth. They feature dual guitar harmonies and killer soloing adding melody to the aggressive metal style, kudos to vocalist Drakkar who was in fine form screaming and singing. They have been touted for big things and you can see why, their stage style is polished, rehearsed to give maximum impact, (much like Behemoth) and their music is a diverse mix of black, death, viking and groove metal. Drawing the biggest crowd of the night they deserved the reception as they were a definite headliner receiving the largest ovation of the day when their set finished.
With all the bands supplying their time for charity this was a pretty stacked line-up, organiser Julian increases the quality of bands every year and as such he also increased the amount raised, this time the total was £570.00 which included money from the raffle which featured many weird and wonderful items (from Denim cuts worn and signed by members of BFMV through to sex toys). A great night was had by all, with smiles on faces and booze flowing plentifully. It's a pleasure to be a part of these gigs, a real joyous atmosphere, lots of shenanigans and most of all some brilliant bands for a worthy cause. Hopefully we'll see you all in January for the next one!!