HRH Metal – Academy, Birmingham – Day 2, Sunday 18th February 2018

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Sunday’s main stage lineup kicked off with Fire red empress. More rock than metal they’re still more than heavy enough to be on the bill here and singer Jennifer Diehl does a good job of waking up the slightly sleepy and hungover members of the audience with her powerful vocal

The Mighty Wraith

On the third stage were The mighty wraith, a local band that has played Bloodstock in the past. Frontman Matt Gore must be one of the happiest people in metal as he’s always grinning happily, on or off stage. It’s a great set from them and the venue is crowded with people enjoying their set.

Kaine

Kaine were up next. They’re a band I’ve heard good things about in the last few years but I’d never managed to get to one of their shows so I was looking forward to hearing them live. With a sound guaranteed to appeal to fans of NWOBHM bands they put in an absolutely fantastic set. They’ve just released their new album, A crisis of faith and their set was impressive enough that one of the first things I did once I got home after the festival was to go online and order a copy. Kaine’s sound means they fit in nicely at HRH metal but could equally fit in at Hammerfest or Hard Rock Hell and they’re sure to do down well at any major festival they get booked to play.

Power Quest were up next with a set of power metal. While they’re a popular band, I have to say they weren’t one of my highlights – there seemed to be too mush show and not enough substance. The band split in 2013 but reformed in 2016, and it’s my first time seeing them since their break. They aren’t a bad band by any stretch of the imagination, but they just dont have what it takes for me to be keen to see them again – there are plenty of more exciting power metal bands to watch (Dakesis for one).

Elvenking were up next. The last time I saw them they opened for Martin Walkyier before acting as his band for a Skyclad set, but tonight they’re just playing their own material, and very impressive it is too. They’re more metal or power metal than you might at first assume when you see one of them plays the violin (which is more usually associated with folk metal). Their pagan themed songs all sound great and they put in an excellent set.

Dakesis

Dakesis were on the second stage. Like quite a few bands this weekend they’re a local band (and it’s nice to see a decent size festival supporting so many local bands). I’ve seen Dakesis quite a few times over the years and they never disappoint. They’ve drawn a good crowd despite being on at the same time as Elvenking, and treat those there to a great power metal set.

Back on the main stage it’s another local band, Birmingham based Memoriam, bringing some death metal to the rather sparse crowd. While the venue was absolutely heaving this time on the first day, tonight’s lineup seems to have underwhelmed the fans and while some are watching the smaller stages three’s no hidng the fact there are a lot less people here tonight. Perhaps work is part of the reason with people leaving early to get home in time for work the next morning, but I think it’s largely down to the lack of a band that has the same pulling power as Evil Scarecrow or Alestorm. Memoriam do their best and put in a good performance

Grave Digger

Grave Digger were tonight’s headliner. A German metal legend, the band formed in 1980 and since then have released 18 studio albums plus various EPs, compilations and live albums. Their set tonight kicks off with two songs from their latest album (Healed by metal) – we get the title track and “Lawbreaker”, and later on get “Hallelujah” from that album. The rest of the set is a career-spanning best of type set with a whole host of great songs. It’s a real shame there isn’t a bigger crowd for them – this is a great band that deserves to be far bigger outside Germany than they actually are.

Once again HRH Metal pulled together a great lineup with a load of great bands large and small across both days of the festival. The location in Birmingham is great although the Academy management need to get their act together – running out of beer or cider is just piss-poor and should never happen but that’s what people were being told on the first day. Luckily it was sorted for the second day. The food stall in the venue was good and the addition of Dominos doing small pizzas was a great idea that seemed to prove popular. I’m already looking forward to more bands, more drinks and catching up with friends at next year’s event.