The doors of the Birmingham O2 Academy were flung wide open yesterday morning for the eager fans of HRH, ready to enjoy a day of metal and booze-filled fun.
Opening up the festival on Stage 3, last minute replacement Elyrean seemed a tad nervous on stage in between songs but their Death-style riffs and harsh vocals made for a suitable opening to the days festivities. Following right on from them to a now packed third stage, Final Coil oozed riffs out every corner of the stage with the crowd that had gathered lapping it right up.
Over on the main stage, Eradikator opened proceedings with their unique brand of thrash infused metal. Having not seen them since they supported Death Angel over 3 and half years ago, it was really nice to see them play on a bigger stage and have a crowd the size they did. On completely the other side of the metal sphere, Ballsdeep followed on from them and packed out Stage 1 despite their early slot. With member of the crowd still talking about how awesome their set was long after they played, it is clear that they hit the mark dead on.
Atorc opened up the second stage with their unique brand of folk infused metal whilst over on the main stage finnish metal legends Shade Empire made their debut to the Birmingham crowd. Whilst some members of the crowd took a little longer to win over, by then end of their set most of the audience was either nodding along and headbanging to the symphonic black metal riffs. My only complaint would be that the sound could have been a little clearer as some of the more intricate melodies in songs such as “Lector (Welcome)” and “Dawnless Days” got lost in the sea of bass.
At Dawn We Attack had already packed most of Stage 3 by the time I got over to see them with their ‘hatebreed-esque’ style again proving popular with the crowd. Continuing the Stage 2 festivities, Pelugion went down a storm with the three piece filling the Stage 2 area rather impressively and bringing the crowd onboard with their unique mix of hard rock and metal. Back on main stage, Warlord seemed to have made it their priority to get as many heads banging as possible to their no nonsense death metal. Despite the sea of bass still being there, they were certainly achieving that goal.
Eyes Of The Raven were next up on Stage 3 with their truly unique brand of metal being a huge hit for the still packed room whilst Winter Storm brought something new to the fold with their semi-symphonic metal and great singing from vocalist Hannah Fieldhouse. Lost Society then proceeded to ram the Stage 1 area with the biggest crowd so far that day. Whilst they have changed since I last saw them with Destruction over 4 and half years ago, the crowd that had amassed thoroughly enjoyed them with comments including “Man, they were fun!”
Over on the other side of the venue, One For Sorrow brought the other side of the spectrum of metal to the still packed out third stage with the crowd in there having a fantastic time. Internal Conflict followed suit on the second stage with the room again getting rammed again with eager fans. Having missed them when they played Bloodstock 2017, it was great to finally catch the quintet who were quite simply, smashing it.
Rounding out the third stage for the day Donkerkarnuffel easily had the biggest draw of the day with people queuing outside the doors unable to get in. With their slightly heavier Avatar style of metal, the crowd that was squeezed into the room were clearly having a great time with some of the loudest cheers I heard today shooting up. Raging Speedhorn followed up on the main stage with their metal/hardcore sound firing up the crowd to engage in some of the biggest mosh pits I’ve seen for a while.
Rounding out the second stage Red Rum, like Donkerkarnuffel, garnered so much of a crowd, people were on the stairs up to the room watching them. A true testament to the entertainment and quality of the performance they give. Finishing the evenings proceedings, Trollfest seemed to have decided to raid a balloon factory before their performance with inflated rubber objects littered all over the stage and the frontman wearing a highly impressive crown. Whilst they were a little too strange for me, the crowd that was there were lapping up the silliness and highly enjoying themselves.
And thus ended day one of HRH metal. The good news is, we get to repeat it all again on the Sunday!
All Photos courtesy of Sean Larkin Photography