Uprising Festival 2017
De Montford Hall, Leicester
27th May 2017
Review & Photography by Graham Hilling
Uprising 2017 is back, bigger and better! As last year, it is hosted in the iconic De Montford Hall and once again it hosts the Leicester Metal to the Masses final along with a host of big name bands to entice the metal hordes of middle England! I took a trip out of London to see what all the fuss was about!
Planning to see all the M2TM finalists was scuppered when the M1 and its’ copious sets of roadworks got in the way. This means that I missed the first of these bands, Fractions, so apologies guys, I was told you were very good… The first band I did manage to catch were Mörti Viventi from Stamford in Lincolnshire.
Playing good, solid (zombie themed!) thrash they cranked through a set of well written songs to a pretty responsive crowd. It should be noted that the stage at De Montford hall is massive and they do look slightly out of place, I guess used to playing much smaller venues.
Blood Oath are next up and they have clearly brought a fair bit of support with them (they are from Leicester so no surprises there).
A very impressive set of death metal from a set of veteran musicians (I mean that in the nicest possible way) has the crowd nodding and waving their inflatable swords!
Blood Oath look and sound completely professional, front man Mark Thrax Johnson winds the crowd in and makes great use of the stage. They grin like men possessed in between songs!
Great stuff and clearly well received by the crowd.
Next up are Ubiquitous, a slight thinning of the crowd does nothing to deter these youngsters from putting on an energetic performance.
Playing death/black metal with screamy vocals they rocket through a set at breakneck speed. Vocalist Baphomet (really, “I name this child Baphomet!”) must feel like he’s run a couple of marathons by the end of the set, running from one side of the stage to the other, he barely stands still for more than a second.
Still well received, I think it’s safe to say following Blood Oath was going to be tough.
My Legacy are the final band in the M2TM final. Describing themselves as melodic metalcore they make good use of dual vocal styles with guitarist Mason Jones doing a fine line in clean vocals while Kesh Young handles all the rest!
Once again, no shortage of energy and a polished performance. Good stage presence too, not awed by the size of the space they have to work with.
I found some of the music a little difficult to get into, perhaps some growers in there rather than instant hooks……
All of the bands in the final tonight deserve tones of respect, they all put in sterling performances and can be proud. We’ll find out who the winner is later in the day, so keep reading!
A quick trip outside to the acoustic tent to catch a little bit of Stevie Jones and the Wildfires. Very chilled and a nice juxtaposition to the amped up metal inside the venue.
There’s also food aplenty and a stall selling tea (among other things) in REAL mugs! So British! The garden out here is actually a really pleasant area and it’s nice to catch your breath before diving in again…
Dive we must though! The second stage is now about to kick off in earnest, with the first band here being The Darkhorse from Northamptonshire.
Beards galore and we’re on a trip to a very sludgy place indeed! Not really my kind of music to be honest but there is something quite infectious about the noise these guys make.
Some of the songs being proper chuggathons and they draw a fine crowd into the smaller, more intimate room even with some moshers pushing each other around at the front!
Resin are next up on the mainstage, featuring the guy behind Uprising, Simon Yarwood. A quiet unassuming guy on stage he stays very much on the background but pretty much every band playing today has put in a good word for him and without him there would be no Uprising, so much respect sir indeed!
Anyway, Resin play music that is difficult to pigeon hole, heavy but also including a violinist. It’s a strange but not unpleasant combination!
A brief visit to the second stage to catch some Witchsorrow. While never really grabbing me, being a little too slow for my taste they’ve managed to fill the smaller room pretty well.
The sound does them justice too, full and deeply gutteral. Well received by the crowd, there’s a flotilla of nodding heads!
Then it is off to the garden and the acoustic stage to catch a couple of songs from Pelugion. The translation into the acoustic world is a strange thing, coming across as altogether more mellow and, actually, really chilled.
Andy Sweeneys vocals almost sound like they were meant to be sung over the acoustic versions.
It’s a good fit, and appropriate for the moment (although it would have been nice to have heard them played in all their glory too!)
Next up on the mainstage there’s a fair bit of expectation around the arrival of Hærken. A theatrical entrance befits this band and that’s what we get, Reverend Benjamin, the Scribe slowly makes his way onto the stage holding a tome and swinging a thurible which is puffing out smoke from burning incense.
Steffan of Death’s Ridge, the Druid makes his way onto the stage and stands proudly in the centre, banging his staff! The whole band are dressed medieval garb too! Then The Baron runs on with a flag… it’s certainly an impressive set of entrances and this would have fallen flat on its’ face if the ensuing music didn’t match up to the glorious beginning.
Lucky for them, then, that the music is awesome! Death metal but with a unique style, played to perfection and by a band that look truly top notch. They own the stage!
We get pipes too and a storm soundtrack in the middle of the set is a perfect scene setter. Really, not much to complain about here!
I wander back to the 2nd stage to catch a bit of Divine Chaos.
Another fine band who also look well at home on a stage. Vocalist Benny F jumps around like his life depended on it and puts in a real in your face performance which is perfectly suited to this room where the band and audience literally stand next to one another. All quite intense and, once again, well received by the assembled metalheads.
Back to the main room (and this backwards and forwards between rooms was now becoming the norm!) in order to catch Eastern Front.
It’s been quite a while since I last saw these guys and since then they have changed vocalists, recruiting Marder for vocal duties. Having a female vocalist does change the sound and she does a fine line in nastiness for sure.
Playing in almost complete darkness with barbed wire fences and sandbags on the stage, their WWII inspired brand of black metal keeps things moving along nicely.
Quite a bludgeoning sound, I make my way back to the 2nd stage before they start bleeding to catch Boss Keloid!
A change of pace and style for sure and an overdriven sound to be proud of!
However, The Keloids are stopped in their tracks by a broken guitar string which does break up the set a little. We’re treated to a little bit of impromptu dub which doesn’t last long before we’re back on the overdrive pedal again.
Just goes to show what a diverse genre of music metal is and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how good Boss Keloid were live. Helped ever so slightly by the awesome sound in this small room. Very enjoyable.
A brief visit to the garden to catch one track from Cadence Noir, this is feel good music through and through and a shame I didn’t catch more….
Lawnmower Deth take to the main stage although the audience in here is now looking quite small, made even worse by the fact that the room is cavernous.
No matter though, Lawnmower Deth are undeterred and determined to have a good laugh while playing out some of their classic songs! They are joined on stage by a couple of performers, one dressed as maniacal clown, another as demonic rabbit (to accompany “Sumo Rabbit and His Inescapeable Trap of Doom”!).
Large bouncy balloons float around in the audience and they get bounced around throughout the set which is performed mainly at breakneck speed! Good solid performance and enough to put a smile on even the most stoic metalhead!
Meanwhile Kill II This are preparing to take to the stage. Guitarist and Kill II This supremo, Mark Mynett, is on the mixer ensuring that the sound will do the band justice.
However as soon as he’s back on stage we start to see some sound problems. The foldback is inconsistent, the samples are inaudible, then threy’re so loud that’s all you can hear.
The guys soldier on though and hammer through a short set of classic songs. Mark Mynett jumps around on the small stage, always threatening to land on a light or an amp or a member of the audience! Simon Gordon sings his heart out.
The sound, however, is disappointing and the band never really make it out of third gear. This is particularly disappointing as they have some of the best songs I’ve ever heard (imho). I’m waiting for the day when I can hear Kill II This really let rip, they will be unstoppable!
Talking of unstoppable, it’s back to the main stage to catch Onslaught. No sound issues here as they take to the stage, with Jeff Williams rallying the crowd closely followed by Sy Keeler who always looks like he is barely containing a massive grin (quite strange given the music!).
He is also mutating into a sort of Gandalf type figure, no complaints on the voice though! For stage presence, Onslaught are right there, not looking in the least bit awed by the large stage (why should they tbh, they’ve played all over the world so are a well rehearsed tight unit for sure).
They always seem to be enjoying themselves when playing and this evening is no different, it’s also the first time I’ve seen Iain Davies on guitar, he seems to fit in well, nice solos and loads of stage presence too.
Mike Hourihan is a powerhouse on the drums, propelling the band along. The now smallish but appreciative crowd lap it up, yes, the power from hell is definitely with the band this evening!
Back to the 2nd stage and the sound issues still seem to be persisting with the on stage mix in particular causing troubles. The Barb Wire Dolls are making the best of it though and actually when they start playing the sound out front is pretty good.
The room is pretty packed too although it does appear that many of the metalheads don’t really know what to make of the punky sound that the Dolls have.
You’d be stretching it to suggest that this is metal but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good! Indeed, there’s a ton of energy coming from the stage and it’s difficult to not be impressed.
I’d imagine that if these guys were in a club where they had an audience that were into them, they’d be pretty majestic. Tonight, because of a little bit of audience indifference they don’t really reach these heady heights though…..
And to the climax of the evening and, sadly, perhaps the anti climax. Let me first say that Primordial are an ace live band but there’s no doubt that, like most live bands, they feed off of their audience. And here in lies the rub. By the time they take to the stage the audience in the main room has dwindled quite considerably.
I guess with people ensuring they can get home easily, and getting lifts around the country with Primordial starting at about 11:10pm there are only a handful left. Made all the worse by the massive size of the main room.
Alan Averill almost pleads with the crowd “Are we going to do this or what?” and you have to feel for them. At one point he threatens to come down to crowd to instill some energy!
Probably not something you would want to be honest, Averill comes across as a pretty daunting figure, he has a certain intensity which is what makes him such a good frontman. Primordial crack on anyway, “Babel’s Tower” is a standout track and is still ringing in my ears as I make my way home.
So, Uprising 2017, a cracking day and a festival that deserves to do well. It has a great, warm vibe that the best festivals aspire to, with a solid selection of bands for all sorts of metal ears. It’s just a shame that the dates and other events all clashed to make attendance lower than expected. I’ll be back next year and hope to see this friendly festival go from strength to strength.