When it came to the second full day of the first ever Hellfire Festival, Thrash Hits was looking forward to hour upon hour of the cream of young British metal talent tearing up North London like an runaway JCB. Instead we got something more akin to a out-of-control Mini Cooper – sure, at times it felt dangerous, but at times it felt as dangerous as an episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.
Most of Forever Never’s USP lies at the feet of (well, in the throat of) their frontman, the honey-lunged Renny Carroll. It certainly carries twice the charisma and character of the bland brand of melody-stained metal the rest of the band churns out to back his impressive vocals up with. Their touring partners, Exit Ten, turn out a much stronger performance on the Main Stage. The Berkshire prog-metallers’ frontman, Ryan Redman, throws himself about onstage like a demented string puppet, and they demonstrate why they look set to continue the Home Counties scene’s rise to prominence in the UK metal scene as a whole.
The detention of Warrior Soul frontman, Kory Clarke, by immigration control at Heathrow airport meant that Hellfire only got a brief set from the New York-based hellraisers. With bassist Janne Jarvis taking over vocals for what he called “the best damn Warrior Soul karaoke act you’ll ever see”, it does give ‘Fuck The Pigs’ an added dose of venom, but without their wild showman of a leader, it’s hard to get too excited over their all too brief performance.
After being terrified by Martin Walkyier’s bizarre get-up fronting Sabbat, Thrash Hits weighs up how to end our Hellfire experience. Rather than suffer the headline performance from Breed 77, a band so used to playing second fiddle to bigger bands they might as well learn the violin, Thrash Hits ends our weekend with a ball-busting blast of Malefice. Here, if any further proof was needed, is that metal has found a new groundswell of talent amongst the commuter towns of the South East.
Hellfire Festival @ London Islington Academy photo gallery by Dan Kelly