Beermageddon 2015

Review by Hugh Williams

 

Now in it’s 4th year, this small but perfectly formed festival nestled in the Worcestershire countryside really does deserve the well worn accolade of “best kept secret”! Despite it’s backwoods location it’s very easy to get to, ten minutes off the M5, so being local I went over to take a look.

Circumstances forced me to arrive on Saturday, therefore missing a Friday lineup of blackened Brummies Gehtika,  pirate crew Redrum and prog pagans Rannoch among others, but the buzz around the site indicated it was a great opening night. The first thing I noticed was the facilities – clean toilets and lots of ‘em! Showers, cheap food, it’s all here, and you can even park your car by your tent if you like…plus a big car park at the front of the venue for easy on and off the site. Village pubs were getting extra trade from wandering metalheads – indeed, outside of the main hall you wouldn’t know a metal festival was going on, it’s the classic English village location.

All bands were playing inside the hall, yes that’s INSIDE…you won’t get rained on here. You won’t get ripped off either – bar prices were VERY cheap. The first band of the day were soundchecking so I grabbed a pint of Hobgoblin, smiled at the pile of change I got out of a fiver, and waited for the day’s show to start.

Demons Of Old Metal – awesomely groovy thrash n roll band who really got things off with a bang. Five masked madmen including a grim reaper whose sole instrument was a plastic machete, a kind of second frontman but on backing vox, and it worked for them. These guys are loud, they rock, and they’re fun…the perfect start to the day as the hall filled with hungover headbangers. Tombstone Cowboy from the band told me they have their debut album “Dominion” out soon, so watch out for that and catch these Torbay terrors live if you can.

Up from London, Designs Of Chaos followed with a full on blast of NWOBHM blended with groove and death, the moustachioed madman on vocals doing a sterling job at maintaining brutality from beginning to end of their set. This was followed by Engraved Disillusion bringing us melodeath from Taunton, another storming set from what I saw before interviews called me away, hopefully I’ll be hearing more from them soon.

I caught up with Northern Oak for an interview before their set, they promised progressive folk metal, blackened to perfection, with added waistcoats…and by the gods that’s exactly what they delivered! It’s no secret that I lean towards black metal and heritage themed sounds but Northern Oak played a storming set here…the folky flute and violin brought depth and atmosphere to songs like “Marston Moor”, while Chris Mole’s furious riffing gave grit and vigour all the way through. When a set ends with the crowd chanting the band’s name, you know it was a good one…I recommend that anyone who hasn’t yet seen NO live make it their mission to do so soon!

Re-Armed flew in from Finland to play at Beermageddon and were up next. A groovy death fest with a dash of thrash – these crazed Keravians really went for it, at one point bassist Juhana Heinonen even dropped into the crowd and played among the headbangers.

Next up were a band I’d been waiting a long time to see live – Eastern Front. With a stage set looking like a scene from Enemy At The Gates and an image to match, this was a real sonic assault, pure war torn black metal from beginning to end. EF have been a part of the UK black metal scene now for years and their pedigree shows – this is a class act and their set was flawless, I and most of the hall were left reeling from the barrage. This East Anglian army are beginning work on their third album now so watch out for that towards the end of the year.

Belgian bruisers Sanity’s Rage were up next, you wouldn’t think such affable gents could sound so angry, but weaponised rage was what they delivered. I only caught the beginning of their set but I was impressed with what I saw and heard.

Martin Walkyier needs little introduction in this world …from Sabbat to Skyclad and beyond…but tonight’s headlining slot was the maiden voyage for a new lineup of his old band. I had a chat with Martin and the band earlier in the day and one thing became apparent pretty quickly – there is some serious talent here! Opening with The Sky Beneath My Feet and closing with Terminus, the Beermageddon crowd were treated to an amazing set of songs from all eras of Mr Walkyier’s time in Skyclad. The band are brilliant and recruited from all corners of the scene – Jez King from IO Earth on violin, guitarist Jacqui Taylor from Martin’s other band The Clan Destined, bass behemoth Justin Pryce from medieval marauders Haerken then drummer Damian Powell and axe man Ian Gillings from Rannoch. A true midlands supergroup, and an awesome end to my day at Beermageddon.

Even with commitments elsewhere, the lure of more live metal was too strong so I popped back over to Beermageddon on the Sunday, just in time for the first band of the day. Children Lost In Time are Nuneaton nutters who brought some chaos – heavy, brutal, but fun…they ended their set with a cover of “Gay Bar” performed by frontman Marc just in his pants – mental but still metal!

Exeter extremists Codex Alimentarius were on next and from what I saw and heard before popping out for an interview – this band gave a Sunday sermon in groove metal to wake the dead.

I interviewed Sanctorum before their set, they informed me we could expect high intensity thrash with “ill placed pinched harmonics”…well I don’t know about the technical side of their sound but we definitely got thrash – and intense it was. This was the essence of metal, a relentless thrash attack with growled vocals, brutal but played with precision. I took a copy of their album “Old Ghosts and New Wars” away with me to review and I’d recommend it to anyone, quality stuff.

My time at Beermageddon was up, so I headed home with the disappointing knowledge that I was going to miss Line Of Fire, By Definition, Tysondog and the legendary M-Pire Of Evil. I would recommend Beermageddon to EVERYONE, it’s a festival organised by and for the metal community with not a ripoff in sight and I can’t see how it could be improved, it’s the perfect festival for those on a budget or for anyone looking for some final underground insanity at the end of the season. See you there in 2016!