I first heard about Power Metal Quest Festival via a Facebook link last year, it featured a competition to win a pair of tickets for the event. I was fortunate enough to win said competition, so travelled down to Birmingham with a friend for the weekend and really enjoyed PMQF 2018. After my positive experience last year, I wanted to pay for tickets in order to support this not-for-profit Independent festival.
Travelling forward to 2019, there has been a change for the festival and all for the better. This year’s festival is at the fabled Asylum venue, which is not only more spacious but has a bigger stage and room for an ever-growing crowd. With Birmingham being the Home of Metal, there realistically is no better location to host a metal festival.
Upon entry to the venue, you are greeted with signed drumskins of the artists that have performed over the years and this continues into the stage area. This year there was the return of the crafts area where one could make their own Dragon (out of pipe cleaners no less) and the props area where you could strike your best pose with inflatable swords, helmets and the like. Also located here is the Patch Amnesty stall. Festival attendees were able to donate any unwanted patches to a good cause, and purchase patches to adorn their battle jackets with all proceeds going to the charity MIND.
The first band on were Merseyside based FORLORN HOPE. They took you back in time via a history lesson to the Peninsula Wars alongside the 95th Rifles, and their skirmishes at Talavera and the capturing of an Imperial French Eagle. There were even a few comments regarding Bernard Cornwells beloved Sharpe and how fans of said Sharpe might grumble that they were about to do songs not relating to the Peninsular Wars, but they were still relevant as they still detail shooting people! New songs The Last Stand referenced the Zulu War and To The Bitter End the conflicts of WW1.
The second band that took to the stage were PRIMITAI. The crowd had increased significantly and were enjoying themselves. They played several tracks from their latest offering The Calling and played Curse of Olympus, which went down well with the crowd. Vocalist Guy Miller came down to the barrier and engaged with the crowd delivering a song from their first album and embraced the crowd accordingly. PRIMITAI’s 80s inspired melodic heavy metal style certainly delivered.
Find PRIMITAI on Facebook.
The third band of the day were CONTROL THE STORM, whom I was really looking forward to after backing their Kickstarter for their new album Forevermore. Their set heavily featured songs from said album with a few tracks from their first offering Beast Inside. Judging from the headbanging and singing along, it was clear the crowd were engaged. There were calls for a circle pit from the band but alas other than a miniature polka pit in front of me this sadly did not materialise. They ended their set on the song Follow Me and they clearly will have new fans following them from now on.
Next up was LUKE APPLETON of ABSOLVA and ICED EARTH, he unleashed his acoustic metal to the Asylum. He was joined on stage by Becky Baldwin of FURY and HANDS OFF GRETEL. Luke has recently released his first solo offering Snake Eyes, so the set featured songs from this album and it totally works. Amidst the heavier offerings of the day, the acoustic lines gave the crowd a chance mellow out. Luke then teased the crowd to see if they knew ICED EARTH. We were then delighted to two ICED EARTH tracks Melancholy and Watching Over You that the crowd lapped up, the crowd sang along in full as a heavy metal choir.
Next on was RUINTHRONE, a power metal offering from Rome. Amidst a few technical difficulties during their set they certainly conquered the stage triumphantly and entertained all in attendance with a blistering set of mighty proportions.
Find RUINTHRONE on Facebook.
MEMORIES OF OLD took to the stage next and this was their debut performance. Other than the first two tracks shared on social media, the rest of the set had never been played live before. The crowd lapped them up and quite clearly the memory of their performance will not grow old for anyone in attendance this day.
Locals DAKESIS were next to the stage. For those not in the known, members Gemma Lawler and Amie Chatterley are the foundations of the festival. Legend even has it that the festival was discussed over a couple of gins and the name came about on that same night. You are clearly able to tell from the crowd’s reaction that DAKESIS are a well-favoured band in their hometown. Fans even travelled from near and far embrace their Prog-Power style. They certainly raise the flag for the scene and treated us all to some new songs from their highly anticipated third album.
During a short break in the set, shout outs to all the bands that played were said and thank you to the crew involved to make the day a success were fitted into the set. Then come the mention of next year’s Power Metal Quest Fests eagerly anticipated announcements.
Announced for next year’s line-up are; Manchester’s STORMRIDE and hailing from Sweden, VEONITY and then a pause to discuss the headliner and tease the crowd appropriately Power Fest? Metal Quest? POWER QUEST. This was greeted by all in attendance with a thunderous cheer of approval.
DAKESIS finished their set with Before the Fading Light. The light will certainly continue to shine on this group and their festival.
The final band of the night and our headliners were Italian troupe ANCIENT BARDS. We were all taken on a fantasy epic storytelling ride to the realms of The Black Crystal Sword Saga. This is the setting for each of the band’s songs. They performed tale after tale consisting of angelic vocals from Sara Squadrini, which were understandably greeted with enthusiasm by the crowd. As ANCIENT BARDS tales came to a close for the evening there was a clear sign that the crowd would have enjoyed more songs and for the festival to continue late into the night.
The festival is growing from strength to strength every year and there are many tales yet to be told for the saga of Power Metal Quest Fest. For the brave heroes in attendance Power Metal Quest Fest 2019 was certainly a success.
Words: Martin White
Photos: NLCR Photography