||FIRE IN THE EMPIRE/SWORN AGAINST/HELL IS HARMONY
Johnny Main: Photos by Carlan Braid
Fire In The Empire open with 'To The Thinking Man's Horror' which is a solid start to what becomes a very accomplished set from a band who played here last year and went down so well that they were asked back. Drummer Dean Marshall headbangs his way furiously through the number, whilst a solo from vocalist/guitarist Mick McCullagh wows the assembled crowd.
This band are young but incredibly proficient when it comes to songwriting and performance and I can see a clear difference in the band this year to the band I saw at Les-Fest 2012. This band can play the slower numbers like 'Riddles' but can also play the faster numbers like 'Resolve' and everything they do is musically tight.
Marshall plays like a metronome at the back without a hint of deviating from the solid beat which gives the rest of the band a good foundation for the rest of the songs, which also include some great rhythm guitar from Terry Casey.
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Bass player Sam Gee gets his chance to shine on the epic track 'Breakaway' - one of my favourites from the tracks performed tonight, before they wind up their short set with 'Act Of War', which just blasts out - great stuff and I, like many watching their Les-Fest set, hope to catch Fire In The Empire on tour soon.
Fire In The Empire are:
Mick McCullagh – Vocals/Lead Guitar
Terry Casey – Rhythm Guitar
Sam Gee – Bass Guitar
Dean Marshall – Drums
To The Thinking Mans Horror
Act of War
Sworn Amongst attract a big crowd for one of their infrequent visits north of the border, and immediately they show exactly what they're all about as we get not one but two great guitar solos from Jonny Barker on the first track 'Darkness' whilst drummer, Jonny Harper, keeps a solid unwavering beat at the back.
'Nowhere To Run' from the 'Evolution' EP gets a good response from the growing crowd who are quite receptive to the efforts of vocalist Sy James for them to get involved a bit more. His tactic seems to be a winning one though, because by the time the band gets round to playing 'Through The Eyes Of The Decimated' there is quite a mini mosh pit down the front of the audience.
'Ruins Of Our Own Construction' has James giving his all and one wonders quite how his vocal chords remain intact as he shouts and screams his way through the set, but this track seems a particularly taxing one to sing and also features another fantastic solo from Barker. Top marks all round.
'Denounced' and the title track from their 2010 album, 'Severance', are both aired towards the end of the set, and both of them have the audiences dandruff flying down the front.
So with that, the Kingston upon Hull based quintet brings a solid end to a solid set. They may have played for just under an hour tonight, but they certainly made a few more fans at Les-Fest with their spirited performance – let's hope their trips to Scotland are a bit more frequent in the future.
Sworn Amongst are:
Sy James – Vocals
Jonny Barker – Lead Guitar
Robert Ellwood - Bass
Jonny Harper – Drums
Nowhere To Run
Ruins Of Our Own Construction
Through The Eyes Of The Decimated
Official Website: www.swornamongst.com/
Shortly before Hell Is Harmony hit the stage, there were several concurrent conversations in the open air bar outside the main arena, and it became obvious that the next band on, Hell Is Harmony, were certainly worth catching.
As I made my way into in the main arena, the band had just begun their set and guitarist Bartlomiej 'Bart' Mausiukiewicz was already causing quite a stir amongst the crowd due with his unusual tapping technique as opposed to the more usual picking style employed by 99% of lead guitar players.
The track they were playing was 'Tall And Proud' which is actually a very good introduction to the band with its heavy drums from Gabor Kozak who wields enormous power behind his drum kit – seemingly without breaking a sweat. Talent indeed.
Likewise the remaining two members are masters of their own craft – bass player Jakub Schuomski seems happy to sit on the sidelines either pulling the funniest faces or just head banging away whilst still 'picking' his way through the set. The vocalist, Michal Gurajeck, is just a great frontman with his unique style of performance and a voice that suits the Rap/Metal/Hardcore style of the band.
The headbangers down the front join in the action on 'One Day' after a little encouragement from Gurajeck and although the bands set is a mere forty minutes long, they make the most of it – especially warming to the crowd after performing 'Channel 51' in the latter half of the set, which has the crowd moving and is certainly one of my favourites from their set.
Finishing up with the song 'Hell Is Harmony', Mausiukiewicz is once again the centre of attention as he energetically jumps up and down whilst the song gives the headbangers one last chance to rock out to a band who have made the most of their appearance at Les-Fest this year, so if they are playing a gig at a venue near you, I heartily recommend you go and see them.
Hell Is Harmony are:
Michal Gurajeck – Vocals
Bartlomiej Mausiukiewicz – Guitar
Jakub Schuomski – Bass
Gabor Kozak – Drums
Tall and Proud
Here Comes Fear
Hell Is Harmony