After a year and a half, the mighty Power Metal Quest Fest returned for its second installment. The brainchild of Amie and Gemma of Dakesis and CapsaArx Studios after a drunk conversation at Bloodstock Festival in 2016, this little one day festival is really coming into its own. A massive thank you to the Power Metal Quest Fest team for all their hard work in making the second installment bigger and better. Here’s to many more in the future!
As usual, my photos are not the best quality. I have my phone, a height deficiency and no press passes to let me get up close and personal for the best shots. And on a personal note, I did not witness all the bands (though I heard them) due to some personal things going on that day. That doesn’t reflect the quality of the festival, it just means that for some of the performances, there may not be quite as much written about them.
First up were some of my buddies, Atorc. They are not a power metal band (as you can probably tell from their stage attire), but even as a battle-hardened folk metal band they do have some power metal elements, particularly with HelBard’s vocals. Honestly, this was the best I’d seen them live. They were tight, and their look is really consistent and well put together. It seems like they’ve finally found their full sound, it didn’t sound like anything was missing. Their full-length album Under The Raven Banner will be officially released next year, but you can get early access from their pledge campaign here. I’m hoping that there are big and wonderful things on the horizon for this band.
Now Grimgotts was one band I was very excited to see, especially with the Harry Potter references in their previous releases. I was very happy to see both the vocalist and keyboard player sporting Harry Potter t-shirts (even though the keyboard player is a Ravenclaw…). The vocalist and keyboard player had so much energy, and it seemed like this may have been their first show, and they nailed it! I am very excited to see them again in the future, they are a very talented bunch of blokes and it would be great to hear a lot more from them.
Next up were Skyward. They had a tough act to follow so my experience was a little biased after the enthusiasm of Grimgotts. The power metal was great, and they put on a good show. It would be good to see them live again, as I wasn’t 100% committed to the power metal cause at that time.
Birmingham Rockschool Choir
Headed up by Gemma of Dakesis and CapsaArx Studios, the Birmingham Rockschool Choir. I wasn’t in the building for this performance, but I did see a lot of mics getting set up and did hear the performance from outside. They kicked off with The Bard’s Song by Blind Guardian, and another highlight I remember was The Book of Heavy Metal by Dream Evil. It was an interesting addition to the lineup which I intially wasn’t sure about it, but it sounded great and it also sounded like they got a great reception. It’s not every day you get a choir performing at a metal festival!
Sadly, Sellsword were unable to perform due to their vocalist Stu having a throat infection. It was a shame because they always put on such a fantastic performance, but it did mean that there was around an hour of free time between bands. This meant time to go and get some food, have a bit chat and have a bit of a rest before the rest of the evening. There was also a giant paper tapestry to help fill in and a photobooth on the top level of the venue to make use of, but me and my friends went and got some food instead. I think it would be great if this kind of break was deliberately incorporated into future Quest Fests, as it would mean that festival goers didn’t need to miss out on any of the bands in order to go and get food or have a rest.
Again, no photos of Womenowar, but I did see a little of their set. There were some very familiar faces in the band (though some quite excellent wigs and outfits!), and the crowd definitely seemed to enjoy the performance. I don’t know an awful lot (if any) of Manowar’s catalogue, but it was certainly a great performance, and the mysterious band members were really enthusiastic and put on an energetic show.
I started getting my mojo back for Nightmare World, so I did see the full set. I should really have got myself a bit of merch for this band, I really enjoyed them. The vocalist was especially enthusiastic, running through the crowd on the floor, and running up onto the balconies. He was definitely making full use of the wireless mic! Definitely a band I want to see again and explore more of their back catalogue.
Fury are a band I should be familiar with, but I’m not, and it’s a real shame. A lot of the crowd, especially at the front, knew most of the setlist by heart, and there was definitely a lot of crowd participation. The band as a whole were extremely energetic, particularly their bassist, Becky Baldwin. Fury are definitely a band I will need to check out and delve into a little more.
Again, some terrible photography skills by yours truly. The penultimate band of the night was Dendera. Once again, they are not a band that I have listened to a lot, and perhaps due to Ashley’s involvement in Power Quest I was expecting something completely different. However, I was not disappointed in what I heard. It was heavy, and gritty, and still had some amazing power metal vibes. Again the band had a great energy, and it was a great way to get the crowd pumped up for the festival headliner!
Sadly, Red Rum had a shortened set due to overrunning and a strict curfew, but this can happen with any festival or show. However, the show that they did put on was definitely not disappointing. There was a continuous jig pit (as you can tell from the blur in the photo above), a circle pit, rowing pits, and a most excellent gentleman (who is the blur on the left) who completely fell over but still managed to not spill a drop of the two drinks he had just bought from the bar. As always, Red Rum put on a fantastic show, and I am sure it won’t be the last time I see them live (I may be right enough to join in with all of the jigging next time too!)
My only issue with the festival itself was the day. Being on a Sunday, it meant a stricter curfew and also meant that there were not a lot of people around for the final few bands due to final trains and buses. That being said, the festival for a second year in a row did sell out, so obviously the festival is a good enough pull to bring people in even if they know they won’t be able to see all of the bands on the lineup.
I am really looking forward to seeing where the festival could go in the future. I know that Amie and Gemma will be looking onwards and upwards to bigger and better things for this festival every year. Bringing in the photobooth and the tapestry are unique selling points which you don’t see at any other festival I’ve heard of. It’s a great little community, and you can always bond with strangers over power stances and power screams. It’s a genuine festival, but it’s a festival where you can let yourself go, not take yourself too seriously and just have a jolly good time. I for one will definitely be making my way back to Birmingham for the third installment of Power Metal Quest Fest III!