N.E.W. Metal Productions All-Dayer
The Live Rooms, Wrexham
Review by Beth Jones
If there is one thing that I will say about Wrexham, it is that it has always had a good live music scene, however, in recent years that has been heavily dominated by the Indie scene, and whilst there is nothing wrong with that, it just isn’t quite metal enough for me! In recent months however, Ian ‘Beany’ North and Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester have been trying to change that, by putting on as many gigs as possible in genre, via their promotion company, N.E.W. Metal Productions, the ‘N.E.W.’ being North East Wales. We were super pleased when they told us that they were taking it one step further and proposing to put on a metal all dayer, not only because this is what has been missing round here, but also because it meant we got to check out the newly refurbished Central Station, which is now called The Live Rooms Wrexham. To add to our excitement, we also had a visitor with us – none other than Rick’s partner in crime on the website, Dawn, who had managed to navigate the rail network from London to get up and see us!
We arrived at the venue a little before kick-off, so that we could check out the adjustments. First impressions were good. The rooms which before had been open plan, were now split, and a small ‘green room’ had been added – and it was quite literally green, complete with astro turf flooring and a woodland scene on the wall! The main stage area was essentially the same and the roof still, in my opinion, requires lagging to get the most out of the acoustics, but it certainly had a more thought out feel about it. In the second area, there was a huge, table shaped, elephant in the room. Now, a table is always a good idea in a venue where it is pretty much all standing, as you need somewhere to put your drinks, but when said table takes up almost a third of the available space, and is pretty much un-movable, it becomes less of a useful thing and more of a thing of mind-blowing annoyance! However, a team of 15 strong gents managed to push it 3 feet to the side, so at least there was a little more room for watching the bands!
So, without further ado, to the bands! Opening the day for us were a new to the scene local band, Scarfoot. They were a good way to start the day, and it was a refreshing change to see a drummer taking on lead vocals too. They are a little bit proggy and a little bit whacky, and a small crowd had already gathered to watch them, which is never a given for all day gigs at the moment! They certainly had a good sound, but for me the songs sounded a little samey. I wanted them to take it a little further and explore a bit more. This will come though I am sure, as they get more experience under their belt. On occasion some of the harmonies were not quite there, and the rhythms were a little shaky, but with more practice and live experiences like this, they will develop that sixth sense that you get from spending a lot of time with the same people!
Next, over on the second stage, Bad Earth were ready to do their thing. Last time we saw them was at the Pentrefest Summer Sessions. Thankfully this time, they had a lot more clothes on than they did that day!! They are damn good! They are three guys who really know how to make a song groove. The power of Stephen Coxon’s vocals is excellent, and the sound on the day made them crystal clear. They always put on a brilliant show too, with the whole band being totally in to it. They are just great, solid, ‘meat and two veg’ hard rock, and had the whole room grooving with them. Enough said.
We went back to the main stage next, to be in the presence of the aptly named Mad Spanner. In a total contrast to Bad Earth, these guys serve up a huge does of crazy! Their fast paced, heavy as hell, schizophrenic songs are all full of humour and observations on life which completely endeared them to the gathered crowd. They really do look like they have been plugged into the mains, especially front man Michael Randall, who has more energy than all the Duracell bunnies! Ok, they might not be the most technically rehearsed musicians you will ever see, but they are fun, they are mad, and they are a great bunch of guys, who make you feel happy, and I love this.
Scars Of Remembrance where our fourth act up. We saw these guys the first time at Wrexfest in July. We thought they were ok then, they all looked a bit nervous, especially their new front man Mike Edwards, as that was his first gig. Well, what a difference a few months makes! They were tight and all looked a lot more relaxed and gig ready, and Mike was on fire!!! He was up on the big table; he was bouncing about in front of the monitors, and on the stage itself, and looked like a man on a mission! It was definitely mission accomplished by the end of their set. It is so great to see a Wrexham based Metal / Metalcore band and I can’t wait to see them grow and progress further. Nice work lads!
Carrying on with the heavy theme over on the main stage were Abominate. They really do hit you in the face with heavy. Lead singer, Dave Ballantyne, looked like he was baying for blood! They didn’t seem quite ‘on point’ on the night, although talking to Dave afterwards, I think a heavy few days may have contributed to this. That said, they were still really good and they do what they do really solidly. Their drummer also pulls some quality drum faces!!
Next up were a band that we hadn’t seen before, Ragnarok. They are a good, old fashioned, dirty hard rock band and they are now definitely on our ‘must see again’ list. Their set was laden with powerful riffs and good solid numbers that everyone was moving too. Guitarist Matthew Foulkes did it all with a very cheeky glint in his eye, and they all have an obvious passion for music. If you like bands such as Witch Tripper or The Senton Bombs, you would love these guys. They left us with a political number which was pretty raw and hard hitting given the current climate, and I was very impressed by them, both in their live performance and their song writing skills.
The day so far had been superb, and we were now heading into the final three bands, with main stage support, All Consumed, up next and ready to take the heavy up another notch! Blooming heck they are heavy! They are a mix of death and thrash, but with the odd hint of prog – a random combination – a bit like a cheese and jam sandwich! But they are so tight and so well – rehearsed that everything slots together brilliantly. Their drummer, Dave Kenyon, is also insanely good, pulling off some amazingly fast and powerful beats. They had a good group of crazy moshers going hell for leather down the front too! They were perfect main support material.
The second stage headliners were M2TM North Wales winners, Gothic Folk ‘n’ Rollers, and all – round top people, Cadence Noir. What can we say about these guys that hasn’t already be said! They had a bit of a shaky start, when the electrics blew and they lost all power for a few minutes. But this only made for a brief pause, and didn’t knock them off their stride one little bit. They are totally different and that is why I love them so much. They have a bag of folk elements in there, with Emma Bennett’s violin, but they are still heavy, groovy and super lively, making for a proper party atmosphere. This was sustained throughout their whole set. The atmosphere was absolutely on fire by the time they got to their last song, where they stepped it up one final gear to give us an amazing cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Fear Of The Dark’! WOW! Superb! A couple of clowns in the crowd got a little over excited during this and became a little vigorous for mine, and a fair few others’ liking. There’s always one isn’t there! Hey ho, that aside, what a set this was. It just reaffirmed that they were totally deserving of their M2TM win, and that I, and Rick, will never get bored of watching them perform!
And so, the end was nigh, and we had reached the final mosh pit! Our headliners for what had been an awesome day were seasoned pros, Hecate Enthroned. I was excited to see these guys for two reasons. Firstly, who can say no to a bit of banshee like screaming backed up by some awesome blackened death metal riffs; and secondly because my old college buddy and fellow member of ‘The Phreax Table’ gang, Pete White, plays keys for them! If you like your death on the Cradle Of Filth side of things, these are the band for you. Powerful rhythms and pumping bass below manic and technical guitars, with a symphonic element of strings and ethereal choirs provided by the keys and the immense screams of lead vocalist Joe Stamps. Now in their 25th year, Hecate have built up a worldwide following, and it is easy to see why. They have the knowledge and professionalism that matures with age, like a fine wine, and it was an absolute privilege for me to be able to see them playing a hometown gig. For Rick and Dawn, there were a little too many blast beats, for me it was brilliant! When you can feel the beat in your ribcage, and you think your ears may bleed, you know you are having a good time!
What a day! All the acts were great, and the passion that every one of them played with was tangible. It is, by far, the best day of metal that has happened in Wrexham for a long time, and it is fabulous to see things starting to happen here again on the metal side. This is down, largely, to Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester and Ian ‘Beany’ North, who have dedicated their time, experience and their own passion of the music to relaunch the scene. Huge thanks must go to them for doing this, and also for the bands who entertained us superbly. Long may it continue! The metal scene in Wrexham is, once again, open for business!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.