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SOS Festival 2012 – Day 1 Review

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Setting off today’s shindig with a bang; Chorley’s own Fire In the Empire [8/10] hit the stage with full force, bathing the few followers who turned out to seen them in an onslaught of melodic, yet furious thrash metal. With a God like stage presence and songs that could topple mountains, Fire In the Empire are easily one of the best bands of the day, dominating the main stage both visually and musically as tracks from their debut EP such as ‘To the Horror of the Thinking Man’, ‘Fear and Time’ and ‘Twisted Tale’ go down extremely well with the handful of people who have gathered to watch this spectacle.  Although the band are a late stand in – only being confirmed a few days before the festival, Fire In the Empire don’t let it get to them; putting 110% enthusiasm into their performance and showing why they are one of the hottest up and coming British heavy metal bands!

Following such an awesome set from Fire In the Empire would be difficult, but Wakefields’s own Broken [8/10] execute a stunning performance; showcasing some of the finest hard rock anthems that have spawned forth from the minds of a British band in the past ten years. Tracks like ‘Stupid Games’ and ‘Revenge’ off of the band’s new album, What You Deserve – hit Radcliffe hard and heavy, as these groove infected  tracks leave the SOS crowd wanting more. Not only playing fast, punchy, hard rock anthems; Broken’s more melodic material such as the track ’20 Years’ is what really wins over today’s crowd, showing just how diverse, different and extremely talented this band really is. An explosive live performance backed by a brilliant selection songs, Broken are the band to watch out for in the rest of 2012.

Next up is a band that has travelled all the way from Northern Ireland to blow the roof off of Radcliffe Civic Hall, a band who are obsessed with truckers and beer, a band who have an extremely cool looking, bearded bass player… It’s Trucker Diablo [9/10], who they waste no time in getting Radcliffe into the party spirit – as the crowds descend upon the main stage in mass to hear the band’s dirty, almost sleazy take on hard rock. Fan favourites such as ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’, ‘Juggernaut’ and ‘Voodoo’ makes Radcliffe Civic Hall erupt into a sea of headbanging, jumping and drunken antics, as lead vocalist Tom Harte encourages the crowd to sing along with him to these high octane rock anthems.  Although the short but sweet set makes you think that the band have left the stage even before they have started, Trucker Diablo have accomplished their mission of: Blowing everyone’s minds, encouraging alcohol consumption and pulling in the best set of the weekend. No wonder they got chose to support the Foo Fighters!

The Goddamn Electric [6/10] are goddamn disappointing today. Although their heavier material at the beginning of the set gets people’s heads bobbing, their below par presence and sheer lack of ummpphhh behind some of their tracks means people start to lose interest three or four tracks in, however they did have some issues with their sound and equipment. Tracks such as ‘Loyal to the Sinner’ and ‘Something More’ lack the power that comes with having a 2nd guitar player, leaving cool haired guitarist Al to try and add heaviness and depth as well as a melody line at the same time to these straight up hard rock songs. Don’t get me wrong – the songs are present, but whether it is the lack of audience or the fact they aren’t used to playing a stage this big, The Goddamn Electric don’t make an impact at all today, which is not what we have come to expect from these guys.

Improving a hell of a lot from last year, Wizzard [7/10] (No I don’t mean the Christmas one hit wonders) are back to unleash hell once again on the SOS festival stage, delivering an array of classic metal anthems that would put the likes of Ozzy and Dio to shame. Fronted by a Mr. Wizz Wizzard- a man who shows the rock and metal world that the older generation can rock just as hard as the young, Wizzard fly through a set of driving metal anthems; combing elements of early Maiden, Priest and Rainbow to form a sound that is as relevant and accessible today as it was in the 70’s. Monstrous sounding tracks such as ‘Reflections From Hell’, ‘Vampires in the Valley’ and ‘Desire’ all draw in a massive crowd of people who can’t help but throw the horns, have a good old mosh and sing along. Coming all the way from Belgium, Wizzard are the band bringing back the old school to the 21st century.

Ten by Ten [9/10] are next on and they get better and better with every show they do. Being out on the road with Fury UK across the UK and part of Europe has really taught them how to put on one kick ass rock concert and it’s clear from the moment they stride on, to the second they leave that they are going to take no prisoners. Playing through a set that contains huge, energetic anthems such as ‘Pressure’, ‘Keep up with the Joneses’ and ‘Fell From Grace’ – Ten by Ten don’t put a foot wrong today , delivering a spectacular, flawless set that gets everybody moving and singing along to their hard rock/grunge infused songs. Ending on the amazing ‘Jesus Roadtrip’ which has lead vocalist Chris Ward acting out Jesus on the cross only then to show off his kung fu moves across the stage, Ten by Ten leave Radcliffe begging for more, having blown not only their minds… But also their eardrums.

Now time to head over to the acoustic stage where Steel Threads [8/10] are opening up their set with the amazing ‘Dead in My Mouth’ from their new album, Timing is Everything. There is barely any room to move as hundreds crowd round the tiny stage to hear this Oldham based three piece folk it up a bit. Quite clearly the most unique and different band of the day, Steel Threads armed with only a guitar, double bass and fiddle, combine elements of rock n’roll and folk in tracks like ‘Steel Threads’ and ‘Gave You A Thought’ to prove to the mass watching that their interpretation of folk music can rock just as hard as every other band playing today! Their extremely short set of only 25 minutes really wasn’t enough to show just how awesome this band is, but Steel Threads should be more than happy with the electrifying set they delivered.

If Iron Maiden was fronted by “Kobra Paige” of Kobra and the Lotus, they still wouldn’t sound as good as Triaxis [8/10] who hit SOS Festival with full force – delivering a thrilling and exhilarating set, ram jammed full of catchy, NWOBHM anthems. By combining soaring dual guitar lines, powerful rhythm sections and booming female vocals, Triaxis has managed to create a wholesome and commanding sound that not only slays live but also on album to. Playing a mixture of songs off of their 2009 debut, Key to the Kingdom and their upcoming release, Rage and Retribution, Triaxis have the crowd in the palm of their hand from the moment the first chord is played, keeping them interested through shredding lead guitar solos, catchy choruses and synchronized guitar lifts. Make sure you check this insane band out at this year’s Bloodstock Festival. They sum up heavy metal to a capital M!

Ditching the usual suit themed stage attire and deciding to take to the stage in their mums dressing gowns and slippers – Fantasist [9/10] deliver a superb acoustic set, rivalling any previously done before by mixing in some classic, some new material and of course the odd cheeky cover. Opening with the bouncy ‘X’s and O’s’, the three musketeers get off to a flying start; getting the entire of the once again fully packed acoustic arena to sing along to the chorus whilst guitarist Oliver Cordwell looks like he is going to melt into a pool of water with a ginger beard due to the unbearable heat. Fan favourites such as ‘Smoke Screen’ come later on in the set, but it’s the revamped cover of the Kink’s Sunny Afternoon that gets everyone in the party spirit. Wacky, weird and wonderful, Fantasist are the loveable rouges who put on an outstanding performance wherever and whenever they play!

Obsessive Compulsive [7/10] prove today that they are a much better band live than on album, adding more depth and heaviness to their gothic/hard rock sound. Although the sound is a bit ropey at the start of the set, Obsessive Compulsive delivered a dangerous, rock n’ roll fuelled set that gets people rocking out down the front. Delectable front woman Kelli is one hell of a singer, having a very powerful voice and showing off her commanding stage presence as he jumps about the stage like a kiddy on red bull. Although the band are still playing songs from their debut release and have only revealed the odd new track, songs like ‘$$’ and ‘Man vs. Machine’ never grow old as hardcore Obsessive Compulsive fans scream the words back to the band at the top of their voices. Such a great set from one of the UK’s best underground female fronted rock bands.

If you have ever been to a Velvet Star [9/10] gig in which lead vocalist Danny Jones hasn’t taken off his shirt two songs into the set – then you are not watching the same Velvet Star. In fact I have heard from a very reliable source that he “Likes to run the show”. Anyway, Velvet Star kick in all guns blazing with a destructive set made up of Velvet Star classics such as ‘Revolver’, ‘Ego’ and ‘It Ain’t Over’ (which erupts the entire venue into a drunken sing along) and tracks off their upcoming EP that go down extremely well with both old and new Velvet Star fans. With their new line-up all settled and sounding better than ever, Velvet Star, especially Danny bounces around the stage throughout the entirety of their set and even at one point dives into the crowd, making sure the crowd enjoy the set just as much as the band are. This incredible set has got everyone excited for the bands up and coming EP, and no doubt the road rage of a tour that will follow. Velvet Star have proved today why they are the UK’s hottest rock n’roll band, and by doing sp have converted tons of people into the Velvet Star army along the way.

Although the day is nearing an end, Exit State [8/10] manage to perk up the mood of a nearly filled hall, getting an impressive crowd response to their melodic rock assault. Having toured with Michael Schenker, Blaze Bailey and doing a full UK tour by themselves, Exit State are true rock stars, sounding musically brilliant but also looking the part on stage. Playing through a set which has the entire of Radcliffe singing along to tracks like ‘Circles’, ‘Check Out The Crazy’, ‘Black Veins’ and ‘I Know Where You Are’, Exit State are one of the tightest and most powerful sounding bands of the day, sounding a hell of a lot heavier live than on album. Lead vocalist Roy Bright looks so dapper in his black shirt and crimson tie – not only looking like Mr Cool, but also sounding amazing as he puts his vocal mastery onto every single track. It’s clear from the multitude of amazing tracks played tonight that Exit State are going to be huge, and when they are, those who were present at this SOS show can look back and say I was there. I helped these guys make it!

After such an amazing day; with so many brilliant bands playing, it is such a shame that headlining band Tygers of Pan Tang [6/10] are well. To be honest… A bit dull. A band with such a huge reputation as Tygers should have a magnificent live show, but after the first couple of tracks the crowd refuses to click and people start to leave for this reason and to catch the last bus/train home. Apart from the two guitarist’s good looking instruments, the epic intro tape and the opening two or three tracks  – there is nothing that stands out or that is interesting about Tygers of Pan Tang tonight and with lead vocalist Jacopo Meille trying to show the crowd how high his voice can go, the vocal lines are somewhat drowned out by the heavy, cantering dual guitar lines in the background.  Although there is nothing musically wrong with tonights set of straight up metal songs, a band as infamous as Tygers of Pan Tang could have been expected to deliver a better and more engaging live show. Hopefully the tracks on their new album will sound better!

Del Preston
Readers Response
  • Old Dan July 24, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Oh the irony!
    You gush and fawn over the bands from earlier in the day each of who owe a massive debt to artists with such a distinguished history as the Tygers.

    The fact that you fail to provide the title to even one of the songs from their 70 minute set tells the readers all they need to know about your knowledge of the legacy of the NWOBHM

    I suggest you go and order a copy of John Tucker’s book without delay and leave the reviewing to someone else next time

  • Matt Seddon July 24, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Heya Dan,

    As the journalist who reviewed this I feel I should reply to this. As a 16 year old lad, having been doing journalism for tons of online magazines for nearly 3 years now – I have always felt that telling the truth is the key to writing a great review and that is what I have done in Tygers case.

    I must admit, I have never seen/heard Tygers material before (alas no song name references; going into the gig with a fresh and clear mind as any reviewer should, but the way they played was nothing compared to the stories I have been told about how legendary these guys are.

    There is no point writing the band a good review if I… ALong with many others present at the concert thought the band pulled in a mediocre performance.

    Thankyou for taking the time to write in. All constructive criticism is revieved.

    Thanks, Matt Seddon

  • Polly July 24, 2012 at 10:38 am

    With all due respect Dan, Matt gave his opinion on a live band – if they need people to know the history of the band to be impressed then they should hang up their guitars. And, to be fair to Matt, referenced that history, saying he expected more from them because of it.

    I was around during NWOBM and Tigers of pang Tang never entered my record collection – nor do I, or any of the bands I know, owe them anything musically.

    If people like them fine – but if they fail to impress a reviewer there is no point spitting the dummy out and calling the reviewer’s knowledge into question.

    • Gaz July 24, 2012 at 11:29 am

      I same as Polly was around during NWOBHM and I also never bothered with Tygers.
      I have however seen a few gigs from one of the bands also listed in this review, I didn’t go to SoS but Seddons review of the band I know sounds pretty accurate to me.
      If he didn’t like Tygers that’s his opinion history behind them or not, and if he thinks a wet behind the ears upstart stole the show, then again its his opinion.
      After all music evolves and changes, just because you happened to have a following during the eighties does not mean you still cut it today.
      A point of referance might be that whilst Tygers where at the peak of their powers Metallica where brand new no history upstarts playing rip off versions of even less succesfull NWOBHM bands such as Samson and Diamondhead.
      I know who I would go watching if the choice was upstarts or legends, and I include that statement if the scenerio was set in the mid eighties.

      Keep it real Seddon, I would rather read a true opinion and be upset, than a polite watered down version of what you saw as the truth !

  • Matt July 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Thanks Polly

  • Old Dan July 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Good to see all your mates getting behind you Matt

  • Old Dan July 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    “…I was around during NWOBM and Tigers of pang Tang never entered my record collection – nor do I, or any of the bands I know, owe them anything musically…”

    Erm, you’ve never heard of Metallica then?

  • Old Dan July 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    @ Matt, ok you’re 16 so I don’t want to knock your enthusiasm – the review is extremely well written

    But seriously do your research on the NWOBHM and understand that bands that never made it such as Tygers, Samson, Budgie, Diamond Head etc are so important to the scene in 2012. Just ask Mr Wizz from Wizzard how much of an influence they are to him

    Cheers and keep up the good work

  • Paul Keeley July 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Amen to that.

  • Polly July 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Yes Old Dan, I have heard of Metallica, but I don’t know them, do you?

    Just because a band was around when other bands were doesn’t mean they automatically get good reviews for mediocre sets.

    Matt doesn’t need to research the entire history of Heavy Metal to know if a band are boring him, does he? Stand or fall on your performance, not your legacy.

    I loved Spear of Destiny back in the day, I saw them live in about 2007 and they were on fire, I saw them again last year and they bored me stiff, doesn’t mean they were any less relevant in the 80s, or that their albums were rubbish, it’s just they were poor live the second time I saw them – and I already knew their history.

  • PJ July 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Just wanted to say to Matt “keep up the good work!”
    Decent review from a 16 year old. Couple of things I don’t agree with but that’s just my opinion which is irrelevant here! You have plenty of time to grow professionally at what you do and are clearly passionate about rock music, for which I commend you. Rock on young man \m/

  • Emma Whitfield July 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Awesome review Matt. I am happy that you tell the truth about when you review bands. I have to agree with you about the main act it just didn’t fit with SOS festival. Even though they might be legends.

  • Martin Short July 26, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I must say that your reviews of Velvet Star and Exit State pretty much sum up the sets that I saw but I’m afriad that you and I must have been watching a different headliner. Tygers of Pan Tang played a set of brilliant NWOBHM classics and some excellent tracks from their forthcoming album and their 2008 CD Animal Instinct. There were many people who I spoke to after the set were of the same opinion as me, in that they had just seen the set of the day. You didn’t name any tracks because you a) Don’t know the band and b)are guilty of some very lazy journalism. People all around me were calling for songs by name and one fan even got on the mike at the end to call them back to play Love Potion #9, which any fule noes was a massive hit for them.
    Not a bad overall effort from a lad of 16 , keep trying. 7/10