Live Review – Manorfest Mercia

Neil Bolton covers our Moshin’ The Roof On Volume 4 Launch Show (Manorfest Mercia) although he got caught in traffic so I got to review the first couple of bands… here’s what he(we) thinks!!

Born Pariah kicked of the afternoons entertainment with a great attempt at warming up the early crowd, they played last years launch party when they changed their name from Blood Rust and have spent the year settling in to the new identity, we were treated with some of the early tracks and some teasers of things to come… the thrash may be slipping away but the quality remains and we look forward to hearing the new tracks soon.

Next up are Scottish NWOBHM veterans Medusa Touch, who put on a fine performance, it’s not really in my wheel house, but the blend of Maiden, Saxon and Rod Stewart (I was going to say Jimmy Cranky but decided that was rude!!) allows the chaps to get heads banging and toes tapping as they blast their way through some old school metal!

Mr Bolton finally arrives and takes over from here…

The Boss

Stoke-on-Trent boys Vulgore are next on stage and bring their grove laced death to the “Hairy Dog”. It’s not long before vocalist Nathan Meigh professes that they are all “Old, fat, and very warm”. (They’re not). Despite this statement,  the band are on good head-banging form. The death growls shoot down onto the heads of the audience and cause the correct response. Lead guitarist David Jones is no stranger to an excellent solo, some thing he brings with him as he walks down the stage stairs to carry out perfectly ripping solo in the pit. 

Slower older tracks, such as “Bliss”, mixes well with the new track that features on MTFO 4. Vulgore triumphantly leave the stage and the utterly atrocious mid set backing music returns. 

Telford metalcore outfit Recall The Remains are next and in no time singer Jacob Collins hits front man mode and gets the crowd going. A lot of this audience seems to be  fans of this band already. Their music is peppered with a modern sound and still containing death growls and heavy riffs. Bass player Jordan Barnes carries out backing vocal duties very well, ordained with corpse paint his clean vocals and evil growls compliment Collin’s very well. This metal core /new metal sound has an energetic feel to it which is only amplified by a singer who can high kick almost as high as David Lee Roth! 

Another band who’s music feature on MTRO 4 make a very good impression to members of the crowd who where unaware of this band before .

King Abyss’s new album has gone down very well in 2023 leading to excitement for their appearance at today’s show. Their hardcore thrash takes no time in slapping you in the face. And it leaves a bruise.

The eyes are drawn mainly to vocalist Dom Bould who is very upfront in today’s live mix. He is by no means the only focus of the band, the chunky guitars mixing with soloing guitar sound is enjoyable. All this is happening while Boujld screams his point right in your face. The first pit of the day appears; its small but respectable. This band obviously enjoy what they do and this enjoyment is infectious. 

Vulgar Dissection brutal style of death metal is next to appear out of the awful mid band music.

This band take no time to get into their stride and it is powerful. Immediately the speed and precision of their drummer is on show. This precision is not laking in any of his band mates either. Fast riffs, crunchy mid sections, expert guitar sections combine with deathly growls and the occasional pig squeal. The are fingers all over fret boards as you watch these guys destroy Derby. It also causes the second pit to manifest. It is strange to see so many smiles around the venue accompanied by such brutal violent music, but many a smile there was, including mine.

A similar vibe remains for the next band All Consumed; their vicious attack of metal is loud and nasty. Almost immediately orders come from the stage to “bang your fucking heads” its difficult not to as the large fast riffs get hold and do not let go. The mountain of a vocalist Micheal Skeech clings to the steel beams supporting the ceiling above the stage, glaring into the crowd with malevolent intent.  Once more death metal reigns at The Hairy Dog, ruthless riffs, a crunchy rhythm is every where and it is welcome. A wall of death is called for and Manorfest Mercia obliges.  

 Its time for a rest and some more shit backing music.

A lot has been spoken about the age of the next band Tortured Demon, so I won’t. 

The stage lights rise to show Joe Parkinson sat behind his kit waving his sticks to signify to all he is ready; we are also. The drummer is joined by the rest of the band and they instantly rip the place a new one. The addition of two more recent members is thankfully seamless and the boys carry out a very professional well rehearsed set that pleases all. Their metal core thrash exudes energy that once more infects the crowd. We are shown speed, power and precision , along with a keen ear for metal song writing. All these attributes are appreciated by the crowd who lap up the metal.

Its difficult to pigeon hole Northern rockers Damnations Hammer as they have a lot in their arsenal.  Vocalist Tim Preston has a presence on the stage of some one very comfortable in their role. The riffs this band can produce are a very comfortable thing to behold also. They entice the head to bob and your face to pull its riff face. A new bass player is to the right of the stage, but if you did not know this you would be oblivious, it seems like Mr Warren Wild has been there since their 2007 outset.

If I am to mention the song writing skills of Tortured Demon, I have to mention the exemplary skills of this band. Each track has crushing riffs, guitar sections and overall impressive musicianship.  The powerful drum patterns are supplied by Gary Bevan, expert guitars works are provided by Ady Fernell while Preston sings and provides a foundation of rhythm.

The band finish off this excellent set with “Hammers of War” from 2019’s “Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres” a massive warning to look out for new material very soon.

Its been quite some time since Valafar brought their viking melodic death metal to the live stage, but Wayne and the boys are in no way showing any signs of rust. They are showing signs of happiness with grins apparent on all members.

2018’s album Wolfenkind was well received and shows that the music is the reason this band are on this stage not just Wayne being Mr Manorfest. Horns are raised on stage, horns are raised in the crowd. These sometimes slow, sometimes quicker tunes appeal to us in the audience, indeed many a Valafar tune can turn on a silver penningar, followed by an exhilarating Yea!!!.

Mission accomplished the band return stage right and we await the main event. 

While avoiding the wretched mid band music I would retire to the bar or outside area, and inevitably end up talking to people from different corners of the country. 

Most had come for one band. Xentrix. Some would exclaim they had not seen the since the nighties and was very much looking forward to this show, some saying they had seen this line up more than they ever had back in the day, and was also looking forward to this appearance. Several bodies were in different stages of inebriation, all were ready for this. 

The thrash metal alumni take to the stage and fire into new material. This material has the same glamour as the older. Xentix still thrash, if you are of the many who have caught them recently you will already be aware of this. 

The crowd’s joy is apparent down the front of the stage, all ages, all sexes, all remaining bands are enjoying this. Sabbat t-shirt clad Stan still gives it all in every performance, as do all the band, so do most the crowd. A set list perfectly mixed with new and old comes to end and closes an excellent festival.

A festival supporting the launch of the charity album raising money for Shelter put together by Mr UK Thrashers Mr Neil Brannagan. A festival off shoot of the upcoming Manorfest in May.  This was well run, from what we could see, with a good choice of bands in an excellent venue. 

Just sort the mid band tape please.

Looking forward to Manorfest in Whittlebury, and of course another Manorfest Mercia next year. Cheers all, and well done. 

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