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Monday 28 September 2015

A View From Wiltshire: Rock Diabetes - Fire & Forge 2015

Rock Diabetes - Fire And Forge Festival 2015, Trowbridge Civic Hall, Wiltshire

Across the bridge and into the middle of the beautiful county of Wiltshire for a 12 hour day festival, with a lot of bands that are well known on the British metal scene, the festival took place inside the Trowbridge Civic Hall with two stages (one large, one small) filled with over 20 bands, as a bonus all of the money raised by ticket sales and indeed a percentage of the bands merch sales went towards finding a cue for type 1 diabetes. So rock and roll for a good cause then lets get too it.

Soldier (7) were first up on the main stage and they played a strong set of powerful British heavy metal, Soldier are a revitalised NWOBHM band and their classic metal won over a lot of people in the crowd (they sold a LOT of merch) starting things off on the main stage in style, despite me only being able to catch a few songs. Over on the second stage it was Bite The Hand (7) who had played a good set of hard rock with bluesy bits to shake things up. After this bit of blues it was time for a bit of brutality on the main stage with Plymouth thrashers Huron (8) who were playing their first gig without their frontman Knievel who left after Download this year, the band are now trimmed to a four piece with bassist Rohan James taking over the vocalist role while also providing the bass, this is mighty modern thrash ala Machine Head with technical playing and aggressive songs that got the crowd banging their heads, I've never seen Huron as a five piece but as a four piece they were excellent providing the first real metal moment of the day when the threw in a cover of Testament's Into The Pit just for good measure. Great band that should go from strength to strength after this performance. Back over to the second stage to catch some of the West Country's answer to Crowbar or indeed BLS, Black Forge (7) they play big metal riffs biker style, with cut off leathers and beards galore, the band had some good songs but suffered with bad sound in the second stage meaning everything was very muddy although that could have been the point. With Warlord pulling out at the last minute it was Twisted State Of Mind (7) that took over their position on the main stage, they were full of youthful exuberance and boundless energy.

Staying on the main stage it was time for Triaxis (9) to step things up a little their professionalism was easily noticed, they were slick and drilled unit playing their most fierce material in the shape of Victorious, Liberty, Sand & Silver, Death Machine and Black Trinity battering the crowd that grew during the set, the band as usual played with ability and skill vocalist Krissy once again showing here power even though she was struggling with a hell of a cold, although you'd never notice. If I was to say one thing it's that they were on far too early, meaning they had a very short set for a band of this calibre, they should be much higher up the bill, a quick turn around and back onto the second stage for Triaxis bassist Becky's other band Control The Storm (7) the band play female fronted heavy metal with symphonic styling, their big sound was once again rendered a bit mute due to the poor sound, still the band ploughed through and delivered. Following them were Valous (7) who played gritty metal in the classic style early Maiden sound (a hark to the headliner) with rumbling bass and spiky guitars once again the room let the band down again. Back on the main stage for some chest beating groove metal in the shape of Black Acid Souls (8) they have a real menace about them with mixing thrash and groove perfectly to bring a chugging stomp to the main stage and once again lifting the spirits with fat riffs and booming vocals. Over to the second stage for classic rock worshipping Freeway Mad (8) who are deep in the 1980's classic rock vein of Y&T and followed by Jettblack, with some shirtless guitar fireworks and cowboy booted vocalist who screamed his head off throughout a thoroughly entertaining 45 minutes and the first band to have decent sound on this second stage.

Back onto the main stage ready for the 'Goth Kings of Manchester' Sinnergod (8)who brought a sense of darkness to proceedings playing, electronic Goth metal with big swathes of riffs and synths that was part Manson, part Placebo with less divisive vocals, they played Goth metal with emphasis on the heavier aspects and were not adversed to a solo either, for the most part they were bouncy Goth metal that got the girls (and one guy) dancing along to the darkness. As things changed over a local DJ had a bit of an Alan Partridge moment with some terribly unfunny stand up which made everyone wish he would just naff off and let the bands play. Happily it was time for Worcester trad metal heroes Fury (9) the band are Maiden meets Metallica who always play for their lives on every song having that epic feel of thrashy speed riffs, melodic vocals from Julian and bags of enthusiasm. The band ballsily played two new songs opening with one called StarTrooping and the other coming towards the middle of the set. After opening with a guitar rendition of the Blackadder theme you knew the band were going to have a lot of fun on stage. As well as the new stuff the band played classics in the shape of Dangerous World Out Beyond The Stars and the epic Britannia and Drunken Sailor both brought the house down. Third time at this festival and it showed by their performance which was once again fantastic. They get a bonus point for having the Union Jack instead of the George Cross draped on their amps as well as the Scottish and Welsh flag.

Unfortunately due to some very bad timing Cypher 16 suffered as they happened to be on at the same time as one of the most important games of rugby in the entire world cup, however I was near enough the second stage to catch Voodoo Vegas (8) bring their brand of big party rock and roll to Trowbridge. They are well in the tradition of Aerosmith and co, with big hair, big riffs and big balls they were the perfect end for the sweaty second stage, showing that even in a small venue they can captivate a crowd and get them rocking. Buoyed by a nail biting Welsh victory and being one of the few Welshmen in the building I was in a very good mood as I went straight into Absolva (9) who sounded better than ever in their new four piece formation, rhythm guitarist Luke Appleton returning to the fold after his dalliance with Iced Earth, this gives them more guts than before. They proceeded to get the fans in close, drawing the biggest crowd of the day as they ran through their rampaging metal with new stuff from as yet released album as well as glut of older tracks like Flames of Justice and Code Red that are all once modern and retro. Absolva put in a performance worthy of headline status and they also have a link tot he cause with frontman Chris being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four years ago. So it was time for the headliner and really it was doomed from the start, after Absolva's amazing set having to suffer through a raffle and an auction at 10:45, then technical difficulties, after being in the venue for nearly 12 hours was trying my patience, but after being informed that frontman Paul DiAnno was waiting for an operation so would be sitting down for the gig, things went from bad to worse for The Architects of Chaoz (5) who were playing their first gig in the UK and it also marked Paul DiAnno's first performance in the UK for 10 years. Firstly their sound was appalling the bass was overpowering everything drowning out DiAnno's voice which has greatly improved from his Maiden days, the sound problem was only heightened when he ran through Sanctuary, followed by Prowler and the guitars were barely audible, as an upside the Architects Of Chaoz songs sounded good but would have been better if the sound was good. The final nail in the coffin for DiAnno was that between the songs he did nothing but complain about the crowd and the venue, using offensive remarks throughout to goad the crowd. I can see why DiAnno hasn't played in England for 10 years, he is so far removed from the British scene that he looked like a dinosaur.

All in all a nice little festival that needs a little bit of tweaking in the technical department and indeed the line up creation to make it a very good one indeed.

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