• Phoenix

Aoniafest III

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

What a day! Let me start with that!

OK so I have been working for Hellfire Radio for probably just over a month and a half and what an experience so far. With ‘The Mocha-Metal Show’ taking place at 8.30pm every Tuesday I was approached by Melissa from Aonia to promote Aoniafest III on the radio and through social media channels, which I felt happy enough to do. I was then asked if I would like to be part of the media team for the show, I was thinking ‘Wow, ok, this sounds awesome’.

After the Long drive with my good friend Marc Tyler of LensMarc Photography we arrived at the Corporation Sheffield just before 2.30pm. Upon arrival the queues were already around the corner with people waiting patiently to get in (a good start to any event).

Once inside the venue, the stage was present in the first room with the bar, already techs were working on last minute soundchecks before the first band were due to go on. The stage was well organised with Taurus Amps providing a back line and the other bands guitar heads and flight cases around the sides out of the way.

In the next room we had the merch tables and another bar which was a quieter room from the main stage, which I guess you could hang out for a chat or quiet drink (a nice way to sell merch so the sales people can actually hear you).

Marc and I then proceeded to the backstage area in what felt like a duplicated version of Wayne’s World … followed by the inevitable ‘we are not worthy!’.

The backstage area I would have to say was probably one of the best layouts and well organised places I have ever been to in a venue, three dressing rooms, a kitchen area, toilets and shower room. However, finding the backstage area as one was to find out later was, again like a film rendition of Spinal Tap…following through trippy corridors, I eventually found myself outside of the venue at one point wondering how I got there.

The First band were on…Soul Shredder kicking off the days events for an opening band, what a great performance! All the band looked comfortable on stage and their sound came across through the building crowd. Marina’s voice lived up to the records and considering I am one to listen to Metalcore and death growls, it made a nice change and I felt both impressed at the ‘operatic’ style vocals and the serenity of her voice. The music driving the voice was both powerful and intense which complimented each over wonderfully. When they played ‘The Front Line’ which is the song I have heard the most and played on Hellfire Radio it felt instantly recognisable and I felt excitement at the intro riff and knowing what was to follow. After their set I was able to speak to Stu (Guitarist), Ed (bassist) & Marina (vocals) and have an interview which can be viewed online, all of them were great people and felt like catching up with old friends.

Next on the stage was Winter Storm from the UK West Midlands a dark melodic metal band with influences from Nightwish, Kamelot & Symphony X. Now I say this without causing dismay or any negativity, but I found Winter Storm quite a difficult one to get captured into their music. I felt the stage was a bit still apart from the guitarist Wayne who was obviously enjoying himself, which is a good thing to see. I don’t want this to come across like I am slating the band as its not, I don’t do reviews as some of you will be like ‘thank god’, its my personal feelings about my experience. I just couldn’t feel a vibe that made me feel drawn to the music. I do however have admiration to Hannah the vocalist for being able to play guitar and sing in her melodic style. Credits to Nathan (Drums) and Andrew (bass) as well, may not be my cup of tea but I do appreciate the musicianship. I was hoping to get an interview with Winter Storm but unfortunately, they left early…possibly another gig to play, I wasn’t going to question it.

Elusion the Belgium metaller’s who were on a 3 day UK tour going from Tamworth, Aoniafest and finishing at a festival in Birmingham. Wow! Again something different to what I was used to and for some reason gave me an arch enemy vibe between both the guitarists. With a style reminiscent of Within Temptation who I saw support Iron Maiden, I enjoyed their set. The whole band Evy (vocals), Domingo (guitar), Stijn (guitar), Kristof (bass) & Fre (drums) worked in unison and you can feel the bond of the musicians on the stage. I enjoyed their set and loved how Evy let her inner demon out on the more aggressive vocal range. I got a real sense that Elusion felt humble that they were on tour in the UK and that people were cheering and raving them on. I managed an interview with them later in the day and I have to say they were a great bunch.

The next band was a band I was very interested in seeing on the day and that was White Raven Down with the lads from Essex and Bury St Edmunds. Their track ‘Take Me’ was one I have heard a few times both on streams and through their continual social media work.

Their performance on the day was an interesting one, within the first track Luke (bassist) had a boo boo and snapped his Bass string…oops. My only criticism about this was instead of having a spare bass on the stage was that it was in the Van. Luke’s inner Mo Farah came through as he sprinted off the stage to grab it whilst Stu entertained the crowd with a Satriani-esque solo before Will let off his inner Freddie Mercury out and kept the crowds focused. The intro to their set also caught my attention as Tom the drummer made use of soft mallet sticks to provide a crescendo to the backing track (a nice feature). Overall, I enjoyed their set which had a nice mix of southern style rock/metal and some classic rock vibes to.

Fyresky oooosh! A very interesting band indeed with all the entertainment factor with their face paint and interesting choice of clothing took to the stage. Now Fyre Sky were originally not on the line up for Aoniafest but were added after their gig was cancelled in Scarborough I do believe. A very grateful band indeed and were happy to be added to the list. Their set was very good and the stage presence was definitely felt in the crowd, even after the oopsy moment as bassist Evil Kris 13 (interesting name?) accidently knocked over Gabriel’s mic. It made me chuckle as I could see, even though this can be an annoying moment when being on stage and things like this happen, they had a good sense of humour and laughed about it, which adds a personality to their presence. Their tracks were hard hitting and Gabriel’s solos were awesome. I have to give a shout out to their step in guitarist Nicole who learnt their material in about a week and performed well for her 3rd show with Fyresky.

Lesbian Bed Death, I do admit, I caught the last 3 songs of their set as I had previously been interviewing in the backstage area. From what I saw they, again had their own way of entertaining the crowd. Their songs came across with both a classic rock and punk vibe which caught my attention as it was slightly different to the other bands of the day. I previously listened to ‘Goth Girls are Easy’ and their cover version of Hellraiser by Ozzy from their new album ‘Born to die on VHS’ and was impressed how they adapted it to their style. I noticed it was 3 piece band and no bassist present, either way from what I saw the crowd were enjoying their set.

Chasing Dragons a band I have heard about from Kev from FYM reacts and from Melissa of Aonia. I happened to watch Kev's reaction video for ‘Like Gravity’ and had a good idea of what was to come. Their set was pounding and enjoyable the stage lighting was interesting as it was stuck on red…not sure this is of any relevance but for my video capture on my phone everyone seemed radioactive. They were pure rock n roll and you could easily grasp that vibe in the audience. I liked the dynamic shifts of their songs as one track I watched vocalist Tank and guitarist Adam accompany each other before bassist Murf and drummer Kate brought the impact. Overall another good set and it’s a shame that they have just called it a day, all the best guys for the future.

Aonia the headliners….Holy Shit! Now I don’t , as before listen to much symphonic or operatic vocals but by Zeus their set lived up to the headliner slot. It was a symphonic version of Dream Theater and with the mix of work by Przemek ‘Slick’, Stu (Soul Shredder) & Tim on the Keys providing the insanely awesome melody and Mat and David providing the intense grooves on drums and Bass. Not only made one hell of a reception but some how makes the vocals of both Melissa and Jo stand out even more than they did already. I loved how both voices from Mel and Jo combine in this band and how they compliment each other with their harmonies but it gave it a real sense of theatre. The stage performance of this band was unique and I could see them in the ranks of Dream Theater. I really enjoyed their set and even though at first I was thinking 'ok its not my cup of tea' I quickly changed my mind and really enjoyed their whole performance.

Overall both my day and Marcs was awesome and we thank Aonia and Aoniafest for letting us come along as the Hellfire Radio team. A very well presented festival for the niche symphonic metal groups and rock bands. Most of all I have to say the sense of community could be felt through out the day and again made the metal community stand strong.

Look forward to the Next Aoniafest \m/


Chris Gedge

'The Mocha-Metal Show'