Uprising Festival, O2 Academy, Leicester, Saturday 29th April 2023

Burly frontman Thrax roared like a hungry bear whilst his three equally burly fellows at the front, guitarists Frazer Hart and Mike Freeman and bass player Bill Fordham riffed up a storm.

Words: Smudge

Pictures: Sean Larkin Photography and Watchmaker Studios

I had never heard of Uprising before and was surprised to know that this is the festivals sixth year and in their past they have presented some very interesting bands and that tradition has remained. They also give local and young bands a fair crack too with the final of the Metal 2 The Masses taking place today.

Once I had found my bearings and located the three stages in their various rooms, I headed straight for the Academy 2 stage where the final of the Metal 2 The Masses battle of the bands was due to start. Four bands from the East Midlands were all given 30 minutes to impress with all original material – no covers, and the prize was a slot to play at this year’s Bloodstock Open Air.

Leicester’s own Void Walker kicked off with their technical deathcore which to me sounded like just a rumble of awkward and messy noise. Six lads decided to start a pit which the band appreciated but it soon dwindled to five on the penultimate track.

Next up were Loatch with an average age of 17. They brought a different level of attack and professionalism, remarkable really with this being only their 7th ever gig. From what I saw they played like seasoned professionals. They were tight energetic and well-rehearsed. Win or lose these boys have a big future – so someone had better snap them up!

Inflictions took to the stage, and we immediately knew that we were getting a Slipknot thing. All the band minus the singer wore garish, spiky masks and they had a DJ who helped out on vocals. They were totally unoriginal and poor.

Last but not least were Running With Knives. They gave us some superb riffage and some excellent melodic solo’s and guitar harmonies but the singer seemed to be fighting the sound and came across as flat at times. Probably not their best gig. We had to wait until after Blood Oath before the winner would be announced.

The festival proper started on the main stage with Internal Conflict who pulled a decent crowd and entertained us with some superb metalcore – ‘Kingdom Of Apathy’ with its scatter gun double kick was a particular highlight and the dual gruff/clean vocals between singer Adam Kyle and guitarist Matt Hall was excellent. They also looked comfortable on a large stage.

Back to the second stage for Blood Oath who I had discovered recently and thoroughly enjoyed their two most recent albums. They came on looking like they had just pillaged a village in Game Of Thrones and for the next 30 minutes they gave us a pummelling from their full thrash to melodic death metal. It was as if they were tenderising us for a feast to come. Burly frontman Thrax roared like a hungry bear whilst his three equally burly fellows at the front, guitarists Frazer Hart and Mike Freeman and bass player Bill Fordham riffed up a storm. This was real metal played by real men!

Void Walker was duly crowned the winners of the Metal 2 The Masses and I’m not sure it was a popular result. Even they looked surprised.

Void Walker – Winners M2TM

With a little time to kill a walked in on Hawxx and saw nothing that impressed me, so I headed back to stage 2 for Lowen. Another band I’ve never heard of, and they were introduced as middle eastern doom. Interesting. I saw a dusky maiden, long dark hair falling over her shoulders and surrounding her face. Eyes closed in contemplation fingers gently resting on a mic stand and then she sang – her voice was clean, pure and powerful. She was backed by three men who pushed out the heaviest doom metal, but her voice sailed and soared above, amongst and beyond. I was transfixed for the whole thirty-minute set. I had no idea what she sang but it was absolutely stunning and set against the crushing music it made sense even though it shouldn’t.

After clearing my head I needed some dirt and filth to fill my dark heathen soul and I got the satanic doom boogie courtesy of Master Charger who were playing the smallest stage, they brought their huge rough solid grooves and rocked us into oblivion. We even got some bad ass boogie on the protest song ‘Social Reject’ which everyone lapped up.

It was back to the second stage for Wigan’s Boss Keloid who have a catalogue of very interesting song titles. Lead singer Alex Hurst was big and engaging as they ploughed through their stoner prog set. He even did some dad dancing moves and came across like Phil Anselmo on a couple of the numbers. Finishing with the epic doom of ‘Lung Mountain.

One band that had piqued my interest were SAOR (pronounced SOOR which is Scottish Gaelic for freedom unconstrained). Definition given to me by the lovely Derbyshire poet Sophie Sparham. I didn’t know how I was going to take their Celtic black folk metal so, boy was in for a surprise. SAOR are a one-man band in the studio – Andy Marshall – tonight on bass and lead vocals. He had friends with him that he didn’t introduce but they did a helluva job. The two guitarists were superb and the female who played tin whistle, flute, bag pipes and sang with the most beautiful clean voice was amazing. Again, I stood astounded at the sheer aggression of the black metal with the reeling and jigging Celtic sounds. It shouldn’t work but it does. Marshall admitted that a thirty- or forty-minute set was difficult to choose because most of his songs were about 10 minutes long, but he chose about right with ‘Origins’, ‘Bron’, the absolutely astounding ‘Tears Of A Nation’ and the awesome closer of ‘Aura.

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

Kind of a bucket list thing for me because I have never seen Paradise Lost. Having interviewed them a few years ago I was keen to see them live. They sauntered on and kicked straight into ‘The Enemy’ followed by ‘Hallowed Land’. Nick Holmes introduced ‘Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us’ to a huge cheer before ‘As I Die’ and ‘True Belief’ (not played live since 2019). At times they crushed and at times they were darkly melodic with elements of doom and Gothic rock. I can see why they are so well regarded because I don’t think anyone can play this type of metal like them. Unfortunately, time was against me with a very early start the next day, so I had to cut and run. What I saw from Paradise Lost was a world class band playing at the top of their game. It looked effortless and easy, and it sounded stunning.

  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Paradise Lost
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Paradise Lost
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Paradise Lost
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - SAOR
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - SAOR
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - SAOR
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Boss Keloid
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Boss Keloid
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Boss Keloid
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Boss Keloid
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Lowen
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Lowen
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Lowen
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Blood Oath
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Blood Oath
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Blood Oath
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Blood Oath
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Internal Conflict
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Internal Conflict
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Internal Conflict
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Hawxx
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Hawxx
  • Uprising Festival 2023 - Hawxx

Overall, this was an amazing festival.  The organisers chose some diverse acts who impressed me greatly and I’m sure they impressed others too. Long may Uprising continue because we need festivals like this bringing the unexpected to the masses. Thanks to all concerned for a great day – see you next year?

Festival Rating: 9/10

 

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