Festival: HRH Metal
Venue: O2 Academy, Birmingham
Dates: 15-16th February 2020
Promoters: Hard Rock Hell/Chic Festivals
Check out my Spotify playlist for this year’s HRH Metal featuring (almost) all the bands here.
Get your tickets for the event here.
About the Festival:
HRH Metal is a part of a big family of festivals for Hard Rock Hell/Chic Festivals, also including Hammerfest and HRH Vikings. I have previously reviewed HRH Metal from 2018, although I didn’t attend in 2019 due to it being very close to my first European festival experience.
HRH Metal is based at the o2 Academy in Birmingham, and is close to lots of amenities in the city centre, so food and respite is never far away. From what I remember on my previous experience, there are 3 stages (although 2 and 3 can get filled up very quickly), and there are market and food stalls within the main academy room.
The venue is close to the city centre, with the Chinese Quarter not too far away (with a Wetherspoons in the area), and it’s close to transport hubs such as Birmingham New Street. Although the area is a little run down around the venue, as long as I am with someone I would feel fairly comfortable wandering around after dark to a pub or back to the hotel.
Whatever people may think of the HRH ticketing system, with lots of competitions to win tickets and Royalty passes, the organisers and band bookers never fail to bring amazing lineups to the stage, often booking bands that rarely play or have never played the UK before. It was one of the reasons I fell in love with HRH Vikings pretty much straight away, and I think why the many incarnations of HRH are so popular. For HRH Metal this year, I won my tickets, which means I only paid £10 for an incredible lineup of bands, many of whom I don’t yet know. Just seeing the bands listed below individually is worth far more than the £10 I paid. I’d be paying in the hundreds to see all of them individually.
Bands to Watch Out For:
Rhapsody of Fire
Considered one of the greats of power metal, whichever incarnation you know, Rhapsody of Fire are headlining the festival. I have never seen any incarnation of Rhapsody of Fire, so I am very much looking forward to seeing them live for the first time. I love myself some epic power metal, and this band can definitely bring that through their recorded music, so let’s see how they perform live! Rhapsody of Fire are signed to AFM Records.
For me, Equilibrium have always been a little “out there” with their style of metal. They have definitely fallen under the folk metal genre, but have also used electronica elements in their instrumentals, particular with their latest album Renegades. I know that a lot of fans were not happy with the direction the album took, but after a listen, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there is a lot more electronic sounds in the instrumental, but you also have those electronic sounds providing folk melodies, which means you can still have a jolly good gig. I’d like their set to be a good mix of old and new tracks, there are definitely some old favourites I would love to see live.
The Three Tremors
A play on The Three Tenors, I was intrigued when I saw who was involved in this vocal supergroup. I don’t claim to be an expert with who has been in what band in the past, I am but a mere music fan. However, when you see bands such as Iced Earth and Judas Priest listed in the CV of the three vocalists, you know that you’re going to be in for a treat. Although I am not particularly blown away by the tracks I have heard, I do love these kinds of vocals, and I’m looking forward to hearing those vocals live. As an act, the make or break for me will be the live performance. If they nail that, they have a new fan!
I’m always going to recommend this bunch of reprobates when they’re playing a festival. Playing songs on important topics such as the threat of Crabulons and the mighty meteorological force of the Hurricanado, Evil Scarecrow are definitely not a band to be missed. With amazing stage props, crowd actions for near enough every song, and some of the best live crowd interaction I have ever seen, you would be very silly to not go and see these guys live.
They’re a lovely bunch of people in real life too, and this only gives them plus points in my book. As with Raised by Owls further down, Evil Scarecrow aren’t my usual genre of metal, but it’s full of silliness and fun, so it’s all fine by me!
Skiltron are a band I keep coming back to. I saw them at Wacken Winter Nights last year, and at Bloodstock Festival 2018. You can’t beat a bit of Scottish style folk metal with a big dose of bagpipes. I expect lots of jigging, singing along, and headbanging.
There’s not too much else to say about Skiltron. They’re a great folk metal band, and they have a great live performance. Definitely go and see them play!
Raised By Owls
If you hadn’t already guessed by now, grindcore isn’t exactly my favourite genre. But when there’s some utter ridiculousness involved, well, then I am definitely interested. I saw them live at Bloodstock a couple of years back, and you know there’s something special when you have a Wall of Death determined by how you pronounce the word “scone”.
With their first EP The Great British Grind Off throwing them into the wider metal community, and songs with delightful titles such as “You’ve Been Mary Buried” and “Ov Fish & the Chips”, it’s a celebration of classic British culture in a downright “Dreadful” art form. Look out for their sketches on YouTube as well. I was in literal tears of laughter watching the Slipknot sound check (“More beer keg?!”).
I first heard of and saw Dendera at Power Metal Quest Fest 2018, where they sub-headlined under special guests Red Rum. Although not my usual style of heavy/power metal, there is certainly power and energy in the music. I know there are a lot of fans of this band, and if I’m being honest with myself, I do need to have another listen to get a real feel for what these guys are all about. They have fantastic vocals from Ashley Edison (also now of Power Quest), so they’re definitely on my list to watch.
A local(ish) Viking themed death metal band from West Yorkshire, Valafar are definitely one to check out. The band members are a delight, and both their recording and live performances are tight. These guys have played HRH Vikings and Bloodstock Festival before, and to see them on the stage at HRH Metal is just another horn in their imaginary, historically inaccurate, helms.