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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Hard Rock Hell XI Preview (By Paul)

Hard Rock Hell XI Preview

Less than 24 hours until the gates open at Hafan Y Mor in North Wales and anticipation is beginning to rise. It’s always a good crack with many good bands, friendly fans, long nights and lazy mornings. The event is sold out but it’s always worth having a look at what is on offer.


Just like any festival the first night tends to involve a lot of catching up, settling in and catching those early bands to get in the mood. Oh, and maybe a soda water or two to relax with. Opening proceedings this year will be Staffordshire outfit Ryders Creed, a five-piece who play straight forward rock n’ roll in the style of Monster Truck and Airbourne. They are sure to get the party started with a bang. Check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i18RrK2s9Jk

Next up will be Orange County power trio Idlewar. No strangers to the blog, their debut album went down well with us and with their sophomore release Rite just out James Blake, Peter Pagonis and Rick Graham will not doubt deliver their no-nonsense AC/DC meets Clutch hard rock delivery. One of the highlights of the weekend I am sure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSC96Ge2kbY

Killcode hail from New York city and will bring their interesting Southern infused rock and metal to Wales. Having cut their teeth with a couple of EPs and their debut album along with support slots to Dee Snider amongst others the five piece may be an unexpected highlight. Whet your appetite here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8R94wZgfMs

It will take about 30 seconds to identify that Black Aces are Australian. The four-piece led by Tyler Kinder play Aussie rock n’ roll in the same vein as many of their countrymen. It’s uncomplicated, and Tyler’s vocals maybe an acquired taste. Having played at HRH last year, the band will know the score and with their latest album Anywhere But Here released this week will surely give it a right go. If you want some uncomplicated rock have a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjlskZfjhSE

Plenty of plaudits for Wayward Sons, the latest band to feature Toby Jepson, and astonishingly his first album for 20 years. The debut release, Ghosts Of Yet To Come received positive reviews and their Steelhouse show was appreciated by those who toughed it out. Sure to receive a big crowd, Wayward Sons should deliver a great show. The superb Until The End can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-tMXKSt2cc

I’m somewhat confused about Dee Snider headlining Thursday night. I’ve seen him several times with the Twisted Sister juggernaut, a band that at their peak were as good as anyone in the live arena. Since Sister closed out in 2016, Snider has released his We Are The Ones solo album, which I have to admit I thought was dreadful. His interaction with the US President confused me, although I admire some of Snider’s responses to the racism which is being fuelled by the orange turd burgers insanity. I’ll love him forever for his roasting of Tipper Gore at the PMRC hearing way back in the 1980s. Expect a night of Sister classics, with drunken fools roaring I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Going To Take It at midnight. Either that or it’s beer pong at ours! Check out the title track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRLLHYN2vMM

Friday Main Stage

No doubt many will be nursing the sore head by the time Friday dawns and the main business commences. A civilised 12:50 start on the second stage will help those who may have over indulged. First though, let’s have a look at the main stage. 

Opening the day will be the psychedelic rock of Goldray, the female fronted project of Reef’s Kenwyn House. Alongside bassist Geoff Laurens is the incredible talent of Leah Rassmussen. Think Zeppelin, Floyd and Cream fronted by Kate Bush and you’ll get the picture. One of the bands to watch over the weekend I think. Take a trip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qyR9CQr2IE

If there was a band that I’d have to be dragged screaming to watch it would be Syteria. Having seen them support Joanovarc and reviewed their debut Rant O Bot album, this ¾ female outfit did absolutely nothing for me and the presence of Girlschool’s Jackie Graham doesn’t help. Still, make your own mind up with this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Rp0InwxAUc

A band that caused quite a stir when they first crashed onto the scene in 2011 are The Graveltones. The London based power duo of Jimmy O and Mikey Sorbello. Their blues based rock has gone down well and with two albums in the bank, they should put on a solid show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGVrtqH73-M

If you like your rock with a blues thread running through the middle ala the Black Crowes then The New Roses will need to be on your list of bands to see. Formed in Weisbaden in 2007, the German outfit have a grittiness which is always appealing if delivered well. Check out Thirsty here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LRnmb-B_EE

The melodic rock of Tyketto is sure to pull in a big crowd. Having been around since the late 1980s, albeit with several reformations, Danny Vaughn and co will be looking to put on another high-octane show. Take a trip back to 1991 with Forever Young here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2vG-zlvvk0

Always a favourite at HRH and everywhere they play, the barroom boogie of Y&T will be welcomed like an old family friend and if you want to get in to see Dave Meniketti & his current line-up you’ll need to be quick as the main arena will be packed. Having formed in 1974, this is a band about whom the word legends was made for. Supported by long-term members John Nymann and drummer Mike Vanderhule and new bassist Aaron Leigh the band will be on fire having already been touring the UK for a few weeks. Get some retro Mean Streak here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWrqI1FI4TU

Few in the rock and metal world have yet to see Aussies Airbourne live. The hard working four-piece, led by the insane Joel O’Keefe tour relentlessly and appear at UK festivals on a regular basis. Formed as far back as 2003, the four albums the band have released follow a traditional formula which sits closely to the stomp of their countrymen AC/DC and Rose Tattoo. This will be an opportunity to see new rhythm guitarist Harri Harrison who joined the band earlier this year. Prepare for beer drinking, hell raising and a good time with the best pub band in the world. Here’s a taster of what you’ll get: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2IyX5LXGyg

Friday Second Stage

The second stage holds several gems which will be worth considering. The hard rock of Bridgend’s Those Damn Crows will appeal to those who enjoy Alter Bridge et al whilst the sounds from London based King Breaker will hit the spot for those who enjoy the female vocals combined with some Pantera style backing rock. More classic rock in the AC/DC style from The Jokers will be followed by the stoner sounds of Fire Red Empress, a band who have been causing a stir for some time with their debut album Black Morphine well worth a listen. 

The alt-rock of one woman project The Kut did little for me on first hearing but may translate better in the live arena. Merthyr’s Florence Black have been everywhere this summer and if you’ve seen them at Steelhouse or BOA then you’ll know what to expect. Switzerland’s Sideburn have a no-nonsense AC/DC approach and their album #Eight went down well earlier this year. If you fancy avoiding the crush for Y&T then catch these boys instead. Coming up hard are Blind River, who also got a slot at BOA on the Sophie stage. 

Their gritty, blues hard rock is well worth a listen. If it’s hard and heavy in the Avenged Sevenfold style that you want, then you may also want to check out Leeds based Chasing Dragons whose lead singer Tank’s vocals are a mix of delicate and rough.

Those Damn Crows :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5kArhikvBc
King Breaker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY4ijgKd1pE
The Jokers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3VBMQe_mOc
Fire Red Empress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4hkyKnfI2U
The Kut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1hOWysYoRk
Florence Black: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4OnYlJz0rU
Sideburn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJXciyTJWPI
Blind River: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D_VEGJXYtg
Chasing Dragons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BV2mPMkhoo

Saturday Main Stage

For those still standing Saturday promises some sterling classic rock on the main stage. Kicking off things will be those rock n’ roll outlaws from West Wales, Buffalo Summer. These boys are veterans of many festivals and with a couple of albums under their belts their big sound which has shades of Northern Ireland’s The Answer will be just the thing for the early afternoon. Check out their sound here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoDrJDltZ_8

The arena sound of Toseland is sure to appeal to many. The band who sport biker and all round lovely chap James Toseland have been gigging hard and will no doubt be familiar to many. Always worth a watch, especially if you like Alter Bridge. Here’s Renegade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bmc659kMiK0

Prog in the afternoon will be a thing at this year’s HRH with the fabulous Von Hertzen Brothers coming in hard on the heels of their latest release War Is Over. With a revised line-up the Finnish brothers will surely be one of the highlights of the weekend. Here’s the brilliant New Day Rising to whet the appetite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ19oUREZzQ

One of the sights of the weekend will be the quite awful dancing that will infect our party when Scottish legends Gun hit the stage. They are sure to pack their set with classics and covers to get the crowd moving, along with a couple from their latest album Favourite Pleasures. Here’s the old school cover which always delivers the most appalling shapes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYzijRRRYxU

As the evening draws on you may be interested in the guitar slinging of Dokken’s George Lynch and his Lynch Mob. Not my favourites, but if you like your American rock then the band that first started out in 1989 will be worth a watch. Here’s Main Offender from the latest album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONZk7sof40w

If you want an anthem to sing along to then it must be Place Your Hands, possibly the only track I can name by Glastonbury’s Reef, who by all accounts were fabulous at Amplified and Rambling Man Fair. The alt-rockers have rarely interested me but are sure to get a superb response from a packed crowd. Here’s that song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bihoNRc8GDQ

One of the most disappointing gigs of the year was Saturday night headliners Black Star Riders whose passionless performance was a real let down in Cardiff. I’m hoping better from a band who contain Scott Gorham, one of my all-time favourite guitarists. Here’s a track from February’s Heavy Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUXhAB06BfQ

Saturday Second Stage

The second stage contains more action than you could reasonably want, with Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters from Cardiff kicking off proceedings, followed by the Southern (England) Rock of Western Sand and the promising Black Crowes drawl of Bad Touch. The old follow the new with Swedish veteran metallers Syron Vanes who first drew breath in 1980 and released their most recent album Chaos From A Distance last year, closely pursued by ex-Heavy Pettin drummer Gary Moat’s Burnt Out Wreck, whose Bon Scott era AC/DC should be just the ticket. The crushing sludge crusted tones of Hark will change the direction and the temperature and contrast with the more traditional rock of UK outfit Louder Still who are less than a year into their career. Not sure how Finns The Blanko will go down with their retro indie sound but Planet Rock favourites Wicked Stone are sure to draw a crowd. If you can stay up until midnight, then it’s sure to be rammed for the excellent Tax The Heat who will close the event. A great weekend awaits and there should be something for everyone.

Beth Blade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMi9mXYRrZE
Western Sand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSKPGD3J3tM
Bad Touch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gU5sd_qmok
Syron Vanes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4BNzmvexNQ
Burnt Out Wreck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX_BZmd7LSI
Hark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEtP6IxUCfA
Louder Still: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTukMLH6d5o
Wicked Stone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exEbLBfSOy0
Tax The Heat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-akLKqjVrhM

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