First band up tonight are Glasgow based Midnight Force, a band steeped in the NWOBHM traditions including imagery and waving the odd sword about. The majority of tonight’s set comes from their debut album Dunsinane (check the album out via their Bandcamp). The band start us off with a nice rock track, “Parthia”, before taking us to “The Scarlet Citadel”. I loved the guitar on this, very reminiscent of early NWOBHM, along with John’s spoken pieces during and before the tracks.
The “Covenant” follows before we meet the “Witchfinder” with its slow doom-laden bass and drum intro before the guitar kicks up the pace and we hear hints of early Iron Maiden. The “Killer” kicks along at a great pace before we get “Down with the King”, another rifftastic track with a great chorus hook. The “Warlord Eternal” takes us thumping into the last couple of tracks tonight before we end with the title track from their Restless Blade EP, which hits you like Di’Anno era Iron Maiden meets early Judas Priest. A great end to their opening set.
If you get a chance check out the boys’ songs on the Bandcamp link included above, and go catch them live. If you’re down the front, watch out for swords!
Toledo Steel from Southampton are up next, touring on the back of their No Quarter debut album released back in May this year. The band are minus a bass player tonight with Josh taking over bass duties at the moment. A Judas Priest-like guitar riff heralds “Rock Nights” as Rich wails away, a truly killer opening track to get the busy crowd going. The pounding drums give us a “Heavy Metal Headache” and there may be a few in the morning with all the headbanging going on tonight.
We get into the title track now with “No Quarter” and again with the Judas Priest vibe. We meet the “Speed Killer” from 2015’s Zero Hour EP and if like myself, you grew up at the beginning of NWOBHM back in 1979 then it does not get much better than this, just pure classic heavy metal complete with hook-laden chorus (“Speed Killer, Speed Killer”) and stunning guitar work. The drums kick in again as we take a ride out to “Cemetery Lake”. I cannot get over how much Rich sounds like a young Rob Halford whilst the band plays like demons behind and beside him.
The guitar kicks in with a familiar riff as we go “Heading Out to the Highway” from Judas Priest’s sometimes underrated Point of Entry album and it’s an impressive cover version. We see “Visions in the Fire” now, and again the guitar playing from Tom is just been fabulous. Matt pounds away at the rear and his rhythm-mate Josh on bass keeps a fine pace. Shut your eyes and you could see Priest doing their synchronized swinging guitar playing as you headbang away. The fast-paced “Sight of the Sniper” nicely leads us into sight of the “City Lights”, and I could be back in 1979/80.
I have had a lot of flashbacks tonight to my good old Edinburgh Odeon/The Venue days. What an arsenal of tracks this band has to pick from. It is fitting that “When the Night Draws In” from No Quarter takes us almost to the end of a truly remarkable but all too short set, closed with the stunning “Black Widow” from 2013’s self-titled EP.
I have had the No Quarter album on repeat since first hearing it. You’ll find it on Spotify or you can buy it from the guys at the gigs. Both the EP’s are on Soundcloud, too. With bands like this, heavy metal is alive and thriving. I for one am truly grateful that these young bands are keeping the true spirit of metal alive.
- Rock Nights
- Heavy Metal Headache
- No Quarter
- Speed Killer
- Cemetery Lake
- Heading out to the Highway
- Visions in the Fire
- Sight of the Sniper
- City Lights
- When the Night Draws in
- Black Widow
London band Seven Sisters end the night as we head onto the “Highways of the Night” from their self titled first album. We again head into NWOBHM territory with Kyle’s old school vocals and Graeme killing it on his luminescent pink guitar, resplendent in his red leather jacket with the sleeves rolled up… and what a guitarist he is! We watch as “Blood and Fire” hits us next from their epic new album The Cauldron and the Cross, complete with soaring vocals, guitars firing away from both Graeme and Kyle, along with Steve on drums and Javi on bass.
The dual guitar opening heralds the “Once and Future King”, a tremendous old school rocker of a track, before we catch the soaring “Turning of the Tide” with its epic soaring vocals. The band tell us they are “Pure as Sin” as again those thunderous guitar riffs kick in and take us on a galloper of a track. We meet the “Seven Sisters” next with its delicate solo guitar entrance and delicate vocals before again we hit that hard rock pace – similar to Bruce Dickinson-era Iron Maiden with the twin guitars on a slow burn before they take off galloping away.
The boys lead us into “A Land of Darkness” next, as the drums and bass pound away like Clive Burr and Steve Harris on speed, and the twin guitars take us back to the Killers-era Iron Maiden. I found Kyle’s vocals crossed that void between the two classic Maiden styles from that golden era, what a voice. The soft guitar comes in as we are “Cast to the Stars” and then we are off like a bat out of hell again before we are “Lost in Time”, a single from 2015 to end a truly enjoyable set of old school but new-at-the-same-time tracks.
The band’s two albums are on Spotify while the single “Lost in Time” and their early demos are on Soundcloud.
- Highways of the Night
- Blood and Fire
- Once and Future King
- Turning of the Tide
- Pure as Sin
- Seven Sisters
- A Land in Darkness
- Cast to the Stars
- Lost in Time
It’s been a while since I have been truly impressed by all bands on a bill, but tonight took me back to my early days of the beginning of NWOBHM and also brought it all up to date at the same time. I will definitely be catching all these bands again and I urge you all to catch them very soon at a venue near you. A rip roaring night of pure heavy metal.
Photos by Coops Gig Photography