SOS Festival 2012 – Day 1 Review

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!

About Del Preston

So there I am, in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops his head 'round the door, and mentions there's a little sweet shop on the edge of town. So - we go. And - it's closed. So there's me and Keith Moon and David Crosby, breaking into that little sweet shop, eh. Well, instead of a guard dog, they've got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shop owner and his son, that's a different story altogether. I had to beat them to death with their own shoes. Nasty business really. But sure enough, I got the M&Ms and Ozzy went on stage and did a great show.
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