Sunday, 1 February 2009

Rock of Ages 2 – Performing Arts Centre – 02/10/09

Following on from the moderately successful Rock Of Ages mini festival in October the Christmas holidays once again saw the Princess Royal Centre For The Performing Arts transformed into a gig venue for Rock Of Ages 2.

While this version of the event featured only younger, heavier bands it still provided something for everyone who has a love of the heavier side of music.

First up were newcomers Murder For 10 playing their first ever public gig.

While the bands death metalcore style didn’t break any new boundaries it was clear the band were putting their all into the show, but at some points it did feel like we’d walked in on a rehearsal as the band often seemed unsure how to fill the large stage and ended up standing around watching one another.

For a first show though this is an understandable issue and with more live experience Murder For 10 could become a solid addition to Guernsey’s seemingly shrinking live metal scene.

Second on stage was another band making their debut, Elmer Henley.

Comprised of former members of Astral Casket and Dangerous Kids And Machine Gun Antics they delivered exactly what was expected, slamming death metalcore with synthesiser and keyboard interludes.

This however wasn’t a disappointed as the band executed their unique (for Guernsey) mix of sounds well and Tom Berry particularly anchored this as guitarist and synth controller.

As in Astral Casket Tom and bassist Scott were balls of energy who rarely stopped moving and with the high energy dual vocal assault of Clinton Millard and Ben Lickley Elmer Henley’s first performance was something to make Guernsey metal fans sit up and take note.

The only criticism I could find for the band was that their songs could be more focused, as, on occasion, they seemed to go on a little longer than necessary which lessened their impact.

Next up came one of Guernsey’s more experience metal acts in the form of Maiden Guernsey, and soon people were asking ‘who let Stace have a wireless mic?’ as soon after their first number (a sadly plodding run through of Wicker Man) Stace had vanished into the buildings balconies, where he stayed, sporadically appearing in spotlight for a good chunk of the set.

After the slow start the band soon hit their stride with their covers of Iron Maiden classics drawing the growing crowd forward, if not making many of them move.

As ever once they found their groove the band combined a real sense of fun with great musicianship, especially from guitarist Scorch who did his best to single handedly mimic the three guitar assault of the original Maiden and with the crowd still wanting more Maiden Guernsey left the stage highly successful.

Finally on stage tonight were uncomplicated modern metallers Brutus Stonefist who despite a couple of unsure moments early on played the set of the night.

The band seem to keep gaining confidence with every performance and have come on in leaps and bounds yet again since I last saw them play in the summer. Guitarist Murky continues to add a real sense of fun to proceedings on stage and Tom ‘Shinfo’ Domaille’s confidence is continually growing as he settles into the role of frontman.

Tonight’s set featured something a bit special as Brutus Stonefist were joined on stage by My Last Victory’s Jack Fletcher for a number which had a feeling of a torch being passed as Jack and co try and make their way in the UK and Brutus Stonefist become their natural replacements on our shores.

On the strength of this performance the bands upcoming debut album will be something interesting, and I think we’re all hoping for a Brutus/MLV double header some point in the future.

With more people in attendance than last time Rock Of Ages 2 seems to have been even more of a success and with talk of another Rock Of Ages in the not too distant future it seems Guernsey may be on the brink of having something that could genuinely be called ‘a venue’ (even if it is only a part time one)!

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