It is back. After two years of postponement due to COVID-19 and other complications, Power Metal Quest Fest made a triumphant return on 1st October 2022 at The Asylum, Birmingham. Before this exciting endeavour had even begun, it was clear that there was excitement and anticipation in the air. This was mostly noticeable across social media platforms as attendees discussed eagerly what bands they were looking forward to seeing and band members themselves expressing delight at being part of the line-up.
Organisers Amie Chatterley and Gemma Lawler did everything to pull out all the stops to ensure everyone knew what to expect. Even informing the attendees of impending train strikes and suggesting alternative routes for individuals who were concerned. This dedication showed me instantly how much they care for the attendees coming and this was a breath of fresh air to see. I spoke to Amie and Gemma before the event which you can read about here.
Arriving at the venue, there were attendees queuing outside already and there was already a positive atmosphere in the air. This was a great chance to chat to them to find out what brought them here; for some, they had been before and they were coming back. For others, like myself, it was our first time attending; some had come to see specific bands, others have had friends attend and heard feedback on how great of a festival it is. Once the doors opened, it was time to do the usual once arriving; get a scope of the venue, checking out the merchandise on sale, grabbing their first drink and securing those important spots to catch the bands.
Newcomers IRONSIDE started off the proceedings. When opening with their current single Shield Wall, it’s clear you can’t pigeonhole them into one genre and their sound certainly keeps you on your toes. Their sound was that unpredictable that I made sure to note as much as I could, so I didn’t miss it out in my report. Examples included the jazz opening in Valhalla, that intro wouldn’t be out of place in a 1940s Gangster Movie and the rest of the song was incredibly heavy; Vikings in 1940s anyone? Another came in the form of a song called Valhalla Awaits, if LIMP BIZKIT wrote Viking songs, this should give you an idea on what the song sounded like. At other points, MUSE on steroids came to mind. The stakes are high when opening a festival; especially when you’re a brand-new band with not a lot of material out. This was a challenge IRONSIDE rose to, and they accomplished it achieving excellent results.
You can read more about influences for their sound in my interview with them here.
FELLOWSHIP were next up. They had released their debut album The Sabrelight Chronicles this year and have played very few shows, yet they were high on people’s bands to see list. It was clear to see why when opening with the gallant Glory Days. Their sound was clear, crisp and grand which continued right through their set. When a band incorporates symphonic elements in their music, it can sometimes be hard to hear them clearly on the sound system. This was not the case with FELLOWSHIP as these all could be heard perfectly. I have mentioned in previous posts and my radio shows that “live your life with a battle cry” from Until The Fire Dies is my new favourite lyric, it filled me and the rest of the crowd with joy belting that out live. The crowd were engaged from start to finish as they performed the chapters of their majestic debut tale; these included Hearts Upon The Hill, Oak And Ash and Scars And Shrapnel Wounds. They weren’t going to exit quietly so their mighty closer Glint; they split the audience in half and got them to sing along to different parts. That’s something I hadn’t see before and hope they carry on doing this for future shows.
I managed to catch FELLOWSHIP after their show, you can read the interview here.
I walked in the middle of RITES TO RUIN’s opening song as they played. The first thing, I noticed was how stunning Krissie Kirby’s vocals were; they had such power and passion whilst communicating whatever emotion each song required. RITES TO RUIN‘s sound is very straight to the point and no-nonsense. It’s the kind of music that you can rock out to or chill out to which provided a nice, calm break to mellow things out a bit. The band displayed great melodies; each were made up of powerful vocals, slick guitar work, pounding bass lines and thunderous drums. In keeping with the Power Metal theme, they included a song about Dungeons And Dragons titled For The Love Of Gold. If you get THE ANIMALS classic House Of The Rising Sun plus WHITESNAKE belter Fool For Your Loving and add Krissie’s strong vocals, this should give you an idea of what For The Love Of Gold sounds like. Their great melodies teamed up with their passionate and energetic stage presence kept the audience engaged and eager throughout their set. They are definitely ones to watch out for.
I caught up with Krissie after their set which you can read more about here.
THE SILENT RAGE were up next. They were the heaviest band on the bill, and this was welcomed with open arms as it provided a great stress relief. Guitarist/vocalist Nikos Siglidis mentioned in the interview that the band expected the crowd to sing along to their songs and that’s exactly what happened. They are another band that are hard to pigeonhole into one genre, it’s a concoction of different influences that turn into something that’s heavy and pounding. Think melodic death metal growls with power metal falsettos and this should give you an idea of what they sound like. Their guitar work is a mixture of the two as well. Examples of this can be found in the pounding Stormwarrior, the powerful Sin Of A Pilgrim, latest brutal single Harvester Of Souls and brand new The Serpent Lord. For THE SILENT RAGE, it was their first show in the UK and judging from the amount of the crowd practising air guitar and headbanging, it’s clear that they will be welcomed back.
You can read my interview with Nikos here.
During parts of TIBERIUS’ set, I was conducting an interview and needed food, but I managed to catch just enough to conclude that I witnessed not one, not two but three firsts in live show history. It was the first time I had been greeted by one of the band members as they were playing their set; guitarist Chris Foster made his way into the crowd and interacted with different members of the crowd, since I had interviewed him and vocalist Grant Barclay days before the festival, we both greeted each other as he shredded slick guitar riffs and solos. The second is witnessing a boop on the nose from the musician and the third; someone giving a massage to Chris has he played. I was made aware of this the day after the festival whilst waiting for the train back home. Chris and Grant, they told me what to expect yet I was still blown away by their eccentric and energetic stage presence as they performed tunes such as Skylark, Mechanical Messiah and Of Sheep and Wolves. They ended with one last eccentric bow with their brilliant tune Kaituma. They are a band that certainly keep you on your toes, don’t believe me? Check out their live show when they play in a town or city near you.
You can read my interview with Grant and Chris here.
Find TIBERIUS on Facebook.
BATTLE BORN were another band that were high on most attendees to see list. Having seen them a couple of times myself and from listening to their empowering Skryim themed sounds, it’s easy to see why that is. As they opened with their anthemic self-titled track, it was clear who was in charge of the crowds; it showed the audience who they are and why they are here. They gave us a great selection of songs; these included songs from their upcoming album such as the mighty Power Force and their brand-new single Firestorm that made the crowd stand to attention. They also included from their current self-titled EP, such as the fist pumping Man Of War, the energy inducing Hammer Of Might and closing anthem Bring The Metal Back, which brought people together. Their sound was so tight, I had forgotten they were missing a bass player and they proved once again why they are rising stars in the Power Metal scene.
You can read my interview I had with BATTLE BORN after their set here.
After a hiatus and a new vocalist to debut, SELLSWORD were also another hugely anticipated band on the list. Their opening intro on the sound system was the perfect way to relay what had happened previously and what was about to be bestowed upon us before gallantly opening with Pendragon. From start to finish, it was crystal clear that SELLSWORD had pulled out all of the stops to give us a mighty siege that was not to be forgotten. Their new vocalist Nathan Harrison fitted within the clan perfectly with his mighty vocal power and his microphone on top of a sword. A personal highlight for me was when they performed Merchants Of Menace; this was the song that drew me to the band in the first instant and it was great to see the crowds break out into a heavy jig along to this fan favourite. Judging from the crowd’s reaction, it was clear that the crowd were engaged from the word go and they got a mighty HUZZAH from those that witnessed their triumphant return. It’s great to have this clan of warriors back.
You can read my interview with Henry Mahy and Tom Keely here.
Find SELLSWORD on Facebook.
For headliners SYMPHONITY, it was their first time in the UK and this was a greatly anticipated performance from both band and fans who came to witness them. I walked in as they were playing The Choice, from those first few moments; it was crystal clear who was in control of the crowd.
One of their vocalists Konstantin Namumenko sadly couldn’t make this show due to the ongoing war conflict in his country. David Akesson stepped up to the plate and did a great job as the vocal harmonies between him and other vocalist Mayo Petranin were spot on and could be heard clearly. The band pulled out all the stops to ensure they gave the fans an unforgettable show that will be talked about for years to come.
They gave the perfect balance of songs from their latest album Marco Polo: The Metal Soundtrack and much-loved classics. These included vast sounding melodies such as Marco Polo, Pt 3: The Plague and Evening Star. The beautiful ballads Marco Polo, Pt 6: Dreaming Of Home and The Silence – In Silence Forsaken had a great impact on the crowd as these allowed us to reflect before being hit with a fast melody. Most importantly, they included the catchy tunes that go down well with the power metal crowd; among those were Flying, In The Name Of God, Bring Us The Light and Marco Polo, Pt. 7: I Found My Way Back Home.
It was also clear from the interactions SYMPHONITY had with the crowd that they deeply care about their audience and wanted to ensure they had a great time. Seeing the reciprocation from the fans, it was clear that this was appreciated. They ended with their fantastic rendition of NENA’s Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime that was greatly appreciated. It was their first time in the UK and judging from live show, it’s clear they will be welcome back anytime.
In my interview with keyboardist Johannes Frykholm which you can read here, it was stated that they try and make the live show sound as close to the recording as possible. After experiencing their live show, I can confirm this statement is true.
Find SYMPHONITY on Facebook.
It was my first time embarking on this adventure and given how I experienced this event; I will definitely be making a return. Each of the bands pulled out all the stops to give us all a fantastic show and the dedicated crew worked extremely hard to make sure everyone was cared for. It’s a welcoming festival where you will be looked after whilst checking the best upcoming metal bands. This is the public holiday for Power Metal fans and for those still yet to attend, I highly recommend you do.
Words: Lotty Whittingham
Photos: Phillip Whitehouse