Dates: 1st – 2nd December 2018
Venue: O2 Academy, Sheffield
Verdict: A party worthy of Valhalla!
- As always, apologies for the bad photo quality. I’m doing this all on my own with my phone, I am small and am in the crowds as I don’t have press access, and have no training or experience with live photography. Check out the HRH Vikings Facebook page for lots of professional shots of all of the bands who played this year, who do a far better job of photographing the event than I could ever do.
HRH Vikings Links:
Before I begin this review, I would like to say a massive thank you to the HRH Vikings team who shared my picks for the weekend on their Facebook page. To date, it has been my most viewed post and for that I am very grateful.
For an indoor festival of this size in the UK which requires multiple rooms, there aren’t too many options for a venue. So the O2 venues are one of the only options if you want everything to be all under one roof. As with most venues of this type, the rooms were spacious, but the drinks prices were very high. For example, a half pint of soft drink was around £2.70, and normally you would pay around £1 less for a full pint of soft drink in a pub. The venue did have a “Happy Hour” from 12pm until 5pm where selected drinks were reasonable, but after that the prices went up by more than £2+ per drink. They did however have a special Viking Ale which was £3.95 per pint for the whole weekend.
The location is very close to other pubs and food places in the area, as well as many hotels. The hotel I stayed at for example was only 5 minutes walk away from a Wetherspoons (an essential stop for any metal festival or gig), and the venue itself.
It was also great that there was the option to collect the festival wristbands from 10am on the Saturday, as it gave you a chance to skip the queues and go for a few pre-drinks and food before the festivities got going, and the staff at the box office were really friendly and helpful.
As always with these events, the day started with a Wetherspoons breakfast. After that, we took advantage of the early opening of the box office to collect wristbands and have a (sadly) unfruitful hunt for bouzouki strings before heading back to Wetherspoons and having a couple of cheap drinks before the first bands of the day.
The bands started at 2pm on the second stage and 5pm on the main stage, so we went to see some friends on the second stage at 2pm, the Yorkshire metallers Ravenage. They had a lot of energy on stage and packed the room out, and the final song I saw was This is Yorkshire, a tribute to the best county in the UK.
Then I had to rush away to get some bits done, but I made it back to see my wonderful friends in Isarnos. As always, they were on top form. It was the first time I had seen them with their new hurdy gurdy player Freda, and their new fiddle player David. Their current drummer Lucas was unavailable for the show, so they had their original drummer James was taking on percussion duties. I had a jolly good dance and headbang for the entire hour. They are one of my favourite unsigned bands to see live, and I’m hoping that they will release new music in the future.
The next full set I saw was Waylander. It was lovely of them to share my HRH Vikings Picks as I featured them in it, and they have an album release, Ériú’s Wheel, which will be released late next March. To be honest, I was expecting a bit more energy on stage, but upon hearing that they had had a very tough journey to England from Ireland, it was not surprising at all! The music was fantastic though, and I had a good jig with my friends.
Ereb Altor were my “rest” band before the headliner for the night. They have a less folky sound and a more atmospheric and black metal sound, so it was the perfect opportunity to take a step back, have a seat and appreciate the music from a bit futher away.
Turisas were the first headliner of HRH Vikings, and a long overdue first time of seeing Turisas live for me. I was reunited with my boyfriend for this, so it was our first band to see together (how romantic!). I was having myself a good dance and singalong. Turisas were really tight, they sounded fantastic, and they had a fantastic onstage presence right from the moment they came on stage to the moment I left. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again at Wacken Winter Nights in February, and I do hope that there might be a Bloodstock Festival appearance on the horizon too…
Once again, the day was started with a Wetherspoons “breakfast” of burgers and chips (we had a lazy morning). We missed the first couple of bands, but we did see a bit of Valafar and a bit of Darkest Era who graciously filled in last minute for Pythia who’s vocalist sadly had become ill.
The first band we saw that day however was our friends in Atorc. Every time I see them, they are tighter and better. They always have a lot of energy and they always seem to add something a little extra to the set each time. There were lots of tracks from the upcoming album Under The Raven Banner to listen to, and they sound a lot more “complete” than a lot of the tracks on the original EP.
For the rest of the day, I was glued to the main stage. Obscurity were the first band who I saw on the main stage. They had lots of energy, and there was a lot of power and aggression behind the music. There was a distinct Viking death metal sound behind them, but they made it their own.
Finsterforst are towards the top of my list of favourite bands of the festival. Not only was the music great, but the shennanigans with my friends in the crowd was amazing. There was lots of dancing and jigging, and we had the guitarist and vocalist in absolute stitches by yelling Rick Flair “WOOO!”‘s rather than the more traditional “Hey!” at them during a slow part of the song. I’ve been listening to Finsterforst quite a lot since Sunday, they are definitely a band I want to spend more time listening to. I’m even in their end-of-set photo!
A band I knew little about and only heard a couple of songs from, Svartsot were my “rest” band before the mighty Týr took to the stage because normally I’m getting ready for bed at around 9pm and not at a festival listening to energetic folk metal. What I did instead, was find one of the few seats in the venue, watched from afar, and had a good old sit down dance and bounce around to myself.
The mightly Týr closed the festival in style. This was my third time seeing them live, with my first time being them supporting Sabaton and Korpiklaani in Manchester, and then headlining the Jorvik Festival show in York. Before I first saw them live, I didn’t expect the energy and the performance on stage. And after a lineup change with Terji leaving earlier this year, they haven’t lost any of that energy. Their performance was tight, they played a great range of their discography, and Heri announced that there will be a long-awaited new Týr album coming out in 2019.
I am so, so glad this festival was announced, how much of a success the first installment was, and of course that there will be a second HRH Vikings next year! The line up for next year is not yet complete, but already the three headliners of Heidevolk, Moonsorrow and Finntroll have caught my attention, as well as Skálmöld and Wyrdstæf, who I have not yet managed to see live. I bought my ticket for next year at the festival while they were at a nice bargain price of £25 for the weekend, and my hotel is already booked from Friday to Monday ready for a full weekend of festivities with some of my favourite people. I also got a chance to chat with the guy that books the bands for the HRH festivals, and he is always keen to hear band suggestions for future events.
I can see this festival getting bigger and better, with the folk metal scene in the UK growing year on year, and incorporating more diverse genres to suit a range of tastes.