HRH Metal @ O2 Academy Birmingham 2017

HRH Metal @ The O2 Academy, Birmingham – 11 to 12 February, 2017

 Back to the home of where many believe it all began.  Birmingham was the host for the weekend for the latest installment of the Hard Rock Hell franchise.  HRH Metal.  Two whole days of ear bashing goodness, featuring an eclectic mix of metal from all over the place.


 Opening such an event could be quite a daunting task however, Burden Of The Noose lit up stage three bringing their epically heavy sludge flavour to the pleasingly full room.  These guys had the perfect energy to kick off the day, engaging with the crowd and keeping them wanting more, these boys from Brum definitely did a sterling job and are absolutely not one to miss if they come to a town near you!  Opening the main stage, Bearfist built their massive wall of noise then smashed it straight down, covering the audience in a shower of heavy as hell guitars with a slight techy twist, massive bass lines and pounding drums.  Their set was tight as balls and an awesome way to get the beast of stage one rolling.  Red Rum provided their usual energetic pirate metal with plenty of aarrrrrrrrs thrown in for good measure and the crowd partaking in a jig or two, these guys bring entertainment with them every time.


 Rolling through into the evening, Savage Messiah stepped up to the stage, yet again these chaps didn’t fail to impress, this band bring a class A performance every time, even if Mira’s leg did decide that it didn’t want to join the party.  Bundling through to stage two, openers Winter Storm from the West Midlands, showcased their dark melodic metal, with their clean female vocals and harmonious tones, these chaps and chapess have done rather well for themselves over the last couple of years, and seemed to go down well with the eager audience.  Following on from them were York masters of metallings ((RSJ)).  Instantly flooring the audience with tracks of new and old, who showed their appreciation with several small pits and plenty of head banging.  Coming off the back of their recent tour, and Dan Cook’s stint with Raging Speedhorn, they absolutely still brought their A+ game to the stage.


 Heading back through to stage one for the rest of the evening, I travelled through a bit of a time warp.  Up on the stage, 90’s metal ravers Senser were back with their mixture of rap, harmony, rave and metal sound.  Although a fan of their original offerings back in the day, I personally wasn’t feeling this performance and thought it a wee bit stale.  However, it did go down extremely well with the crowd, they even managed to incite a mosh pit!  BUT it was good to see them up on stage doing their thing, for sure.  Next up was the turn of hardcore hard nuts Raging Speedhorn ft Dan Cook of RSJ on vocals with John.  An absolute sound storm of mighty proportions, these guys kicked Birmingham square in the bollocks then tickled them better only to kick them again even harder.  Heavy, loud, angry and hardcore as hell.  Rounding off my evening was Evile.  What can I say about these guys? You can’t go wrong with them.  They slap you in the face with their epically classic thrash metal, and every show is as good as, if not better than the last.  The ‘uddersfield lads are top class and never fail to please the hundreds of eager ears listening to them at each show.  I couldn’t stay to watch Skindred, however, I have been informed that they put on a fantastic performance.



 I made it down to the Academy in time for Winterfylleth.  The black metal outfit hailing from Manchester, who, although they didn’t move much themselves, put on an absolutely awesome show.  The sound was excellent and they received an extremely warm response from the very large crowd that had gathered in front of them.  I’m personally not a huge black metal fan, BUT, these guys really impressed me and I thoroughly enjoyed their set.  I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon that’s for sure.  Next up, and bringing their typical theatrical exuberance, HELL took to the stage pulling out all the stops for their darling audience.  Stilt walking, costume changes, choreography and a few small circle pits, not even the sound issues with Bower’s head mic could detract from the spectacle that was their performance.


 Speaking of spectacles, Lawnmower Deth were the next band to present themselves to the academy.  Walking on to the Muppet Show tune, they went straight in heavy and fast.    They unleashed their balls on the audience which, not only did people enjoy having in their faces, but they kept knocking the mic stand over.  Slamming through their awesome hybrid punk metal set, this band always show them young’uns how it’s done.  Epic sound from the guys, heavy and fast as fuck with the addition of Skinner, the sheep, imprisoned in the Deth Shed.  I defy anybody to watch LD without a smile on your face, you’ll never do it and if you do, well, you have no soul.

 Headlining tonight, having had to let them in to the academy myself due to an overly job proud security guard, German thrash metal legends Sodom.  This three piece outfit, with their classic thrash mixed with a little bit of death for flavour, put on an epic performance.  Though whether there were sound issues or not I don’t know, but their sound tech guys were constantly on and off stage fiddling with things for them, which, to be honest, was a bit distracting from the performance.  Sodom played their socks off (couldn’t see if they were wearing any), and were extremely well received by the crowd, which by this point had filled the main room wall to wall.  Following an awesome and touching tribute to Lemmy, they broke into the most heaviest version of The Bird is the Word, that I have ever heard, which the crowd went nuts for and actually created the biggest circle pit of the whole weekend.  Well done Sodom, you closed this festival off brilliantly.


 Overall, HRH Metal was a bloody brilliant mini festival.  Good venue, though if you like a sit down, you’ll need to pay VIP for the privilege, and the sound in each room was fantastic.  All of the staff were super friendly.  HRH Metal II is already in the making so make sure you get your ticket for 2018!

Photography: Simon Dunkerley and Sean Larkin


 Burden of the Noose
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 Lawnmower Deth