Rugby Dropout Review

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When you think of a metal festival the usual suspects come to mind. However there has been an ‘Uprising’ in the midlands this year. Leicester’s Uprising Festival, the brainchild of Matt Kirk & Simon Yarwood, is a new addition to the UK metal festival line-up. Headlined with big hitters such as Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band, Hell, Conan & Acid Reign, it promised to deliver on all fronts. The festival also welcomed Bloodstock’s ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ grand final, in which a band had a chance to win a lucrative record deal and a slot at the festival.

The day opened with the ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ competition which we reviewed and is available on our website below, but we begin with the first of the mainstage headliners: Internal Conflict. The five piece hardcore Thrash outfit opened their hometown venue of the De Montfort Hall with vocalist Adam Kyle screaming ‘What’s up Leicester!?’ before the band unleashed a heavy yet melodic wave of guitars. With soaring guitar solos and screaming vocals, the band ripped through their set with ease. Guitarists Sean Rice & Matt Hall showed their technical brilliance in breakdowns of songs with duelling harmonies reminiscent of early Megadeth. Internal Conflict were a great opener for the main event.

Beholder were second to hit the legendary De Montfort main stage. Their classic British Metal sound with super strong vocals by Simon Hall, they are a definite favourite to the baying Leicester crowd. Their progressive sound was filling the room at speed, as the first circle pit of the day came to fruition. Drummer Chris Bentley was particularly on point as he kept a tight reign on the bands timing.

In the Garden Suite, an acoustic stage had been setup for music and art performances. BothRhet Barrow & James Cull performed rock ballads as solo vocalists with a guitar.
As far as art at music festivals go, you don’t get much more metal than burlesque dancers. The local company of Red Light Burlesque supplied some very impressive dancers with a little added comedic value during Raven Lenore’s rendition of ‘Little Miss Muffet’. The Midnight Dogs were absolutely on fire including Steve Wonderwood on a double bass. Their performance was to missed at your peril. Closing the acoustic stage were Resin which featuredSimon Yarwood on guitar. A little chilled out rock performance had the tiny room and garden area packed to the rafters. The acoustic stage had a great atmosphere all day and the thought of having a rock ballad in one room and doom-metal next door was absolute genius.

Fresh from touring North America is northern England’s doom-laden Conan. The deep blue lights devour the main stage as the band come on. The heaviness is on another level as the volume of Earth-shattering bass rips through the guts of everyone in the venue. Jon Davisarrives at his microphone and void of his hoodie which is a sight rarely seen, however bassistChris Fielding restores normality wearing a black hoodie and cap. The constant pulse of Rich Lewis on the drums is enough to keep the band in check through some incredible heavy and slow song timings. Late in the set the stage is awash with yellow light which must be seen to be believed. A band that always play in dark clothes, with dark blue light are now on full display for Uprising.

Headlining the Victoria suite were Acid Reign. Having only recently reformed in 2015 after a hiatus of over 20 years, this was billed as a ‘do not miss’ performance. Decked in an old Leicester City shirt, shorts and brightly coloured trainers, vocalist Howard Smith soon gets the tiny room jumping. His erratic head banging, jumping and amp climbing only gives a clue to the immense speed and heaviness the thrash outfit can deliver. It was definitely a sight to behold.

Before Hell even arrived on the main stage, warning posters go up for a ridiculous amount of pyrotechnics. We knew things were about to get a lot hotter in Leicester. A creepy monologue is spoken as the ceremonious lights were lit by hooded figures, before giving way to N.W.O.B.H.M.for a new generation. Vocalist David Bower acts as a Jesus figure complete with a silvered crown of thorns is centrifugal to the pyrotechnical show with fire at his command. The religious symbolism extends throughout the show with an exploding bible, a 10 foot demon and a baptism of the crowd. They are a force to be reckoned with and the showmanship is top notch.

So we come to the final act on the main stage of the one day event, Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band. The opening riff of Black Sabbath’sChildren of the Grave’ came belting out of the PA system as Phil walked on from stage right. The crowd instantly clamoured at his arrival. Phi lalso had a few words to say about the loss of so many great inspirational people of recent times including Lemmy, Muhammad Ali, who died earlier that day and the highly acclaimed David Bowie. In tribute to their lives, a rendition of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ which every single member of the crowd was singing along with, went down an absolute storm. Orgasmatron & Ace Of Spades were two notable Motorhead songs that made it in the set and kept the die hard fans of Motorhead happy. Personally, it seemed strange to see Phil outside of Motorhead but I think it’s important he carried on doing what he loved, playing music. They were a fitting headliner to close a great day at a brand new UK metal festival. I’m sure that it will only get bigger and better for Uprising, Matt Kirk & Simon Yarwood next year and beyond.

4th JUNE 2016

As the summer of 2016 comes rolling along, so does the festival season, but at the back end of 2015 Matt Kirk & Simon Yarwood came up with an idea to put on a brand new metal festival in the heart of Leicester. Fast forward six months and Simon‘s idea had blossomed into a full-on metalhead’s dream. With headliners Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band, Hell & Acid Reign just to name a few, it was lining up to be an unmissable event. It also included the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses‘ final. A once in a lifetime opportunity for 1 band to win a place at one of the UK’s biggest festival and a lucrative record contract. 5 bands remained from the heats: Garganjua, Blood Oath, Final Coil, Conjurer & Temple Of Lies.


Garganjua, who are local to Leicester came on to a downpour of royal blue light to match theLeicester City flag hanging from the bass drum. What came next was pure unadulterated doom-metal. Detuned, slow and at times, very enigmatic their music went down well with the early attendants to the festival.

Blood Oath were second to hit the main stage. Covered in tattoos and black body paint, Mark Johnson (pictured) comes striding into view with the horns aloft. Death metal soon came screaming from the speakers to give the local ears a good battering. Powerful songs with some technically brilliant instrumental play, they were definitely heading towards a crescendo as inflatable swords fell from the sky.

The energetic and sludge-doom band, Conjurer came on to huge cheers from the ever growing Leicester crowd. Their unusual ‘tactic’ of having bassist Andy Price was a wise move as he thrash around the stage. The guitarist & vocalist Dan Nightingale threw down his guitar towards the end to scream his way through the remaining track. Bassist Andy also decided to jump into the press pit, throwing shapes in every direction. Conjurer definitely put on a show and got our vote to win the competition.

Final Coil bought a different side to the competition. The remained heavy yet mellow and melodic the four piece were able to entertain the crowd who clearly had a deep seated love for doom metal. The band had two sets today, including an exclusive acoustic performance on theGarden Stage next door.
The final band in the competition was Temple Of Lies. A true stoner-metal band lead by bearded vocalist Si Shaw. Si seemed a genuine nice guy who enjoyed entertaining the crowd when not singing. Throwing the obligatory horns, the middle finger, shooting imaginary bullets, and throwing grenades were just a small part of his arsenal.

So it comes to the difficult decision of who was the best band. The compare comes on with the result and as he announces the details of the prize, he once again confirms “it is for one band only, that’s the rules”. “Rules are meant to be broken” is screamed from one spectator, and simultaneously, Matt pulls a second paper from his pocket.

And the winners of Leicester’s ‘Metal 2 The Masses‘ grand final are:

Garganjua also win a spot at Bloodstock as a special guest.

Today was proof the the true roots of metal are alive and well.

A great way to open up a festival and warm up a crowd for the onslaught to come!

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