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hrhgoth2021O2 Academy, Leeds, UK
11th and 12th September 2021
HRH Goth 2021 with Fields of the Nephilim, Jayce Lewis, Red Sun Revival, All My Thorns, The Webb, Drownd, deadfilmstar, Witch of the East, My Dying Bride, Lord of the Lost, Massive Ego, Auger, Seething Akira, St Lucifer, In Isolation and Novus

HRH is a long running group of UK festivals mainly catering for the Metal and Rock genres. It has expended to multiple festivals spanning many genres now, but the emphasis is still on rock music. There is a quarterly paper magazine to accompany the festivals sold at the likes of HMV stores. This is HRH’s first attempt at a Goth festival, which has attracted some criticism in the Goth scene - many have claimed it is not Goth enough and is not compatible to the grass roots nature of the scene.

Personally, I subscribe to the idea that niche scenes need all the help they can get, and every festival and every method of attracting a following ensures the scene survives. It was a great festival, yes it could be argued that some of the bands were playing the wrong festival, but on the whole it was a success. I look forward to next year, the bands announced for 2021 seem to be following a similar path to this year (not 100% full fat Goth) but I’m sure the organisers will settle into providing the bands the scene are wanting to see play live. It’s a clever business model too, a two-day festival in different geographical cities - one in the North, one in the South. The bands swap over each day - this way bands can be attracted from all over the world, for two gigs - clever stuff. The other festival venue was the same weekend but in London.

Day One

Witch of the East

Aeris Houlihan of CHAMBER fames’ solo project. Guitar based, echoing the hallowed days of the 1990’s. Check out the latest record ‘Savage Beauty’.

Music & Performance
Witch of the East are opening the festival, never an easy task. Especially for a new festival emerging after the pandemic. Arriving on stage, just after lunch there wasn’t a large crowd - such a shame as Aeris deserves to have an audience for this project. Looking the part, wearing a horned face mask, an air of confidence surged through the performance - if opening the festival phased the band it didn’t show. If guitar based, slightly dreamy but kick in the pants dystopian, apocalypse reality floats your boat, you would have enjoyed this performance. I need to see them again, my first time, I wouldn’t say I disliked them, but somehow, I feel I need more familiarity to fully appreciate them.

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01. Disappear
02. Down the Rabbit Hole
03. Sister Doom
04. Hostile
05. When You Fuck Me
06. They’re in the House
07. Red, Yellow and Black
08. Tales of Adoration
09. Fools Paradise
10. Hexenhaus
11. Through a Thousand Doors

Music: 7
Performance: 8
Light: 8
Sound: 9
Total: 8 / 10

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Sleazy Industrial Goth Rock was born when Kerrang pushed forward the virtues of DEADFILMSTAR in the pages of their cult magazine. They have opened for many of the big acts in the scene; LORD OF THE LOST, MINISTRY, MORTIIS, KMFDM, CHRISTIAN DEATH, GOTHMINISTER, COMBICHRIST and many more.

Music & Performance
It’s a good while since I saw DEADFILMSTAR play live, I always enjoyed seeing them. So, what’s changed? Very little I’m pleased to say. The chief of the dark industrial is in the building. The man MARILYN MANSON always wanted to be. The band are simply awesome, powerful and every bit as good as the last time I saw them. Every ounce of their soul is put into not only the mean aggressive sound, but also looking the part too – great stage aura. Some bands deserved bigger things, DEADFILMSTAR is certainly one of them.

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01. Now, I Wanna Be Your God
02. Soiled Spoilt and Somehow Flawed
03. Filmstar
04. Black Tambourine
05. Dear Rock n Roll Star
06. Hello, Cruel World

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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DROWND came to my attention after KANGA remixed one of their recent tracks, ‘Sinner’. They have several releases under their belt, which I will now be checking out. They are essentially reasonably hard industrial music, challenging the usual approaches and are fresh and new in this genre. A new full-length album is in the pipeline.

Music & Performance
I’d only found the KANGA remixed track a week before they were playing at the festival, and this was the first time I have seen them play live. I enjoyed their cool but energetic approach; they already have a great stage presence for a quite young band. They seamlessly hit the crowd with a slab of power hammer melodic industrial, absolutely the sort of performance that makes you want to dig out their back catalogue - and that I will be doing this week. Awesome, one of the new find highlights of the day for me.

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01. Palpitation
02. Filth
03. Save Yourself
04. Sick Like You
05. Deathwish
06. Sinner
07. Two Minutes Hate

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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The Webb

Marc and Becki Webb, legendary! They describe THE WEBB as “Goth-electronica-punk-spacerock. DIY ethics in a time of their own with schizophrenic tendencies”. I wish I had written that. Check out their back catalogue spanning several years.

Music & Performance
I have followed them for around the last seven or eight years, but due to Ill health and off the scene for a while never seen them play. I was far from disappointed, by far the biggest impression made on me from the whole weekend! Their quirky nature is worn on their sleeve, fun and gothic frolics are in order for the next 60 minutes! Three large inflatable Halloween spooks and pumpkins adorn the stage, and the equally spooky Marc and Becki fit in so very well, that goes without saying! Becki has a fantastic character; it exudes from every one of her pores - she somehow manages to do the cute spook girl far too well. I would imagine an hour or two spent in her company would be entertaining to the extreme!

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Musically I loved the stripped-down ethics, layered with some rather nice NUMANesque keyboard sounds. Happy to say I walked away from this gig a very happy little Goth - and yes Goths like to be happy. Job done.

01. No Instructions
02. My Dying Wish
03. I Don’t Trust You
04. Real World
05. Trust Me I know
06. Kill Someone
07. Alice in Wonderland
08. Social Media
09. First In My Book
10. Plastic Child
11. Haunted House
12. Alien Invasion
13. Dead Cities
14. In A Dark Place

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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All My Thorns

From the ashes of SOMETIME THE WOLF comes ALL MY THORNS. A love of dark alternative rock flows through the cold dead veins of all involved. Relatively new, formed during Covid, I suspect these guys will become not only well known in the Goth scene, but also crossover into the rock and metal scene.

Music & Performance
I was looking forward to seeing ALL MY THORNS, I’d seen SOMETIME THE WOLF play, and although not entirely my perfect cup of tea (I’m more an electronic / EBM / Industrial kind of chappie) I have a soft spot for Goth rock in all its forms. Now with added vigour from Alec Marlow from DAWN OF ELYSIUM. The musical ability of all is exemplary, and this performance proves the guys have all gelled together so very well. Textbook delivery of sublime dark alternative rock - you will be hearing a lot about ALL MY THORNS - simply put; tinned talent.

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01. Earth Wane
02. Ashes
03. Enlighten Me
04. Samaria
05. Deception Intro
06. Three Year Reigh
07. Earth Woman
08. Dreamscape

Music: 8
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 8.5 / 10

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Red Sun Revival

A band that has stepped into the less populated arena of Gothic Rock, a genre that was overspilling a couple of decades (plus) ago. With historical links to such bands as THE NEFILIM, THE EDEN HOUSE and THIS BURNING EFFIGY the reader should get an idea of where this band sonically sit. However, their broody sound also mixes in some up-tempo songs, with elements of folk in the mix allowing them to have their own identity.

Music & Performance
Cards on the table, as previously mentioned, this reviewer isn’t entirely the target audience for genres such as this. However, I do have a place in my life for this musical direction, and have always loved RED SUN REVIVAL, especially due to the rather exquisite use of the violin. When they arrived on stage, they are now a very different visual band - the Goth look being very watered down, almost to non-existent. One member excepted, well done that girl! However, I’m pleased to say the sound is still firmly as dark as a coal miners unopened sandwich box, and I loved this performance.

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I had seen them before, some time ago but I much preferred this gig. Perhaps they need the larger stage to allow the sound to breath? Still high on my list of favourites in this genre, I was chuffed to have caught up with them.

01. My Child
02. Running from the Dawn
04. Lost for Words
05. In Your Name
06. Premonition
07. Without You
08. The Reckoning
09. Fade In Time
10. Mistakes

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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Jayce Lewis

For many JAYCE LEWIS is recognised as support for GARY NUMAN. To be fair supporting NUMAN has given him a large following. But he has been around a good old while, doing his own thing and also has his name associated with other big acts such as QUEEN. Fellow Welshman, Steve Strange (VISAGE) adored what Jayce was doing and they were great friends. Jayce is also heavily involved in Burton C. Bell’s (FEAR FACTORY) latest band ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS. Plus, as a trivia point of interest, how many artists have had Darth Vader as their manager? /

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Music & Performance
Jayce Lewis came to my attention when he blew my ear drums away as support at a GARY NUMAN gig. He cemented himself further with his continuing work with the master of electronic music. So, I knew what to expect, a full-on active performance that would sonically pin the crowd to the back wall. Well, yes, I was correct. But also, incorrect. The aggressive bass blew the crowd through the back wall and into the street! Wow! Double Wow! The sound was sonically far superior to the NUMAN gigs. I’ve heard so many kick arse bass lines from many bands, but the raw energy and power delivered tonight is something quite new to me. It’s like Jayce has opened a new genre of his own, I’m really not sure how he has pulled this out of the bag - and at a festival! Not at a fully controlled gig of his own! Very, very impressive. For me the total highlight of the weekend.

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01. OrderArt
02. Million
03. Severe Sever
04. Daw Martyr
05. Shields
06. Revolution
07. Wrath
08. Perfect Defect
09. Centaurus
10. Electric Medicine

Music: 9.5
Performance: 9.5
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9.5 / 10

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Fields of The Nephilim

The mid-80s, dust and death spaghetti western looks and signed to alternative label Beggars Banquet - joining the history of great artists such as BAUHAUS and NUMAN. FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM became the students’ favourite, as colleges and universities over spilled with black trench coats. The golden era. /

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Music & Performance
How many times have I seen FIELDS OF NEPHILIM? Simple answer is, I really don’t know. I’m sure anybody that has been around the scene will be similarly vague. One thing we can all say with confidence, they were musically superb every time. Also, the band comes out on stage, every time, to lots of dry ice smoke, and very little lighting. We would all look at each other and say, were they really there? Was it a CD playing and some local guys from the dole queue holding guitars in big hats? Well, I can say that nothing has changed. They were the same at HRH Goth as every time I have ever seen them, a perfect performance. Fine musicians. However, after many years I somehow wish they’d surprise me a little. I can’t help, no matter how much I adore the band, but wish they didn’t feel like a nostalgia trip band with very little new or different to excite me.

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Their fans are as fanatical as ever, with over excited crowd members standing on each other shoulders and security was busy keeping the photography pit clear. So, no doubt I’ll be hunted down and hung at dawn, western style - but I was a little bored.

01. Intro (The Harmonica Man)
02. Preacher Man
03. Endemoniada
04. Love Under Will
05. Dawnrazor
06. Moonchild
07. For Her Light
08. At the Gates of Silent Memory
09. Mourning Sun
10. Chord of Souls
11. Last Exit for the Lost

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 3
Sound: 9
Total: 7.5 / 10

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Day two

Novus UK

NOVUS are an industrial / electro band from the UK. Back in the day, you may have seen them live, sharing a stage with the likes of COMBICHRIST, NITZER EBB, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, SOLAR FAKE, TOYAH, THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE, COVENANT and many more. They are due new material to be released, keep a watch out. A new single, then further new material is due to be released quite soon.

Music & Performance
Slotted into the line-up at last minute due to band issues for HRH, the festival crowd seemed very happy to see this great band. SarahJane has her own following; many have followed her from her FAITHFUL DAWN and HEXEDENE days. Of course, she has also shared her loyal following to her son in AUGER, and their following has been shared with her too. The band had four days to rehearse due to short notice, but gave a firm performance that the crowd loved, and I heard many complimentary comments about the substitution - fine praise considering the bands that were replaced.

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Stonking melodic dark electro, with a fusion of power guitar and bass. Great vocal delivery, as always - and from what I heard all words were remembered (a constant worry for SarahJane). I have a real soft spot for this band!

01. Now Being Held in Memories
02. Voice of the Whirlwind
03. Justify
04. Closer to the Net
05. Neverwhere
06. Net.Web
07. Space
08. Shapes
09. ReDirect
10. Emotive

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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In Isolation

It’s been a few years since arriving on the scene, and the band has a good following and a large back catalogue of post-punk darkwave material. Supported the likes of ACTORS, TOYAH, B-MOVIE and REPUBLICA.

Music & Performance
Yet another band I wasn’t entirely familiar with, damn my consuming fight to keep my business alive and resulting ill health! About six or seven years of musical exploration stolen! So, I decided I need to quickly catch up - a day before the festival and listened to some of their material to wet my appetite. The guys arrived on stage, and quickly I settled into their sound, a modern twist on the 80’s guitar driven synth-based sound. As nearly always when listening to a band cold, there needs further investigation and listening. The cover of a Bauhaus track made my ears prick and settled me further. Their set was a hugely enjoyable hour of today’s festival - and for sure I will spend that time needed in the next few days. Good stuff!

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01. Parlance
02. Russian Doll
03. Not Noticing
04. She’s in Parties
05. A Certain Fractal Light
06. Estrangement
07.Truth or Dare
08. Infinite
09. The Man Who Hides From Love
10. Until the Next Show

Music: 8.5
Performance: 8.5
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 8.8 / 10

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St Lucifer

Part of the Analogue Trash Records family the band have been around for about four or five years. They describe themselves as the world’s first black metal gay disco band. Yes, that describes them very well. Some say electro-clash, but I’m happier with their description. With a surprisingly large back catalogue to explore they offer an alternative slant to the scene.

Music & Performance
I’ve seen the band play once before and became quite a fan since that performance. I was looking forward to this lot doing their stuff. Arriving on stage, they certainly look the part, awesome. Of course, they aren’t here to look good – they are here to deliver some St Lucifer power magic. And that they did. A blistering set that left you spinning. Loads of energy, bit raw around the edges and I wanted to move, to have myself a little jig. Job done really. Pounding beats, immense hooks. St Lucifer deliver the goods again.

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01. Intro / Cultural Ground Zero
02. Razor
03. Trashorama
04. Raise the Dead
05. The Witching Hour
06. No New Gods
07. The Enemy
08. Restraining Bolt
09. Junk Days
10. Music is Violence
11. Elvis is Dead
12. Van Der Lubbe / God is Love

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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Seething Akira

SEETHING AKIRA are a 6-piece Electronic Nu-core band, delivering anger, despair, defiance & unapologetic heart-felt honesty. They ask “Do you want to escape the mundane, relentless mammotomy of dysfunctional normality?” They further suggest “It's about time that you cut ties.” I wanted to include this quote, it’s important to the review.

Music & Performance
It’s important to be opened minded. In many aspects as you pass through life. But what on earth was this band doing on the line-up of a Goth Festival? A band more akin to the energy of the Banana Splits (Ok, I’m old, check out the vintage TV series) kind of mixed in with the BEASTIE BOYS. Sort of - well OK maybe more towards Banana Splits, but there you go. I easily can tell you what they were doing. They provided a blast, a rocket to a perverse party land - they knocked the socks off those complaining SEETHING AKIRA didn’t belong on this set. Yes, some took it too seriously, some Goths do - but on the whole there were laughs, smiles and a sudden reversal and appreciation in peoples thought processes.

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All I heard afterwards was “that was awesome”. So, don’t be tied down by musical direction. Strip this away from the conventional Industrial Gothic expectations, it fitted in remarkably well. For those prepared not to be tied. But there again, in their world it may be fun to be tied up? What else is a festival for? Other than to give you variety and spice in your life. I’d go see them again, maybe even wearing a pair of Hawaiian shorts that are slightly to revealing for my own good…

Music: 8
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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This is a band I’ve watched develop from almost the beginning, and knew they were something special from the moment I first heard them. Energetically fusing electronic synthesis with driving guitars and melody since 2017. Their new single ‘Oxygen’ has just been released and further expands on the immense song writing talent.

Music & Performance
AUGER have a large following nowadays, rightly so. As the afternoon passed, and we started warming up into the evening session, the venue was packed out. Plenty of AUGER shirts in the audience! AUGER is a great live band, but how a two-piece band can take control of such a large stage as the O2 Academy, and still control and use it to their advantage is a sign of a very class act. This is exactly what they did - they entirely owned this large stage. Their energetic playing just throws them into a spatial special effect, and what a difference this large venue made to their sound.

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I’ve previously only seen them play smaller venues. This was much bigger, with a large sound system. Suddenly this gig took them, to my ears, to the next level. The sound had room to breathe, it was like a huge living breathing entity pumping the venue up to its max. The fine melodies, power driven guitar, the deep powerful vocal - all trademark AUGER characteristics. But this time on steroids. Absolutely changed everything. If these guys aren’t playing big European stages sometime soon, I’ll be very disappointed, and I’m sure it will happen.

01. Intro
02. Substance
03. Sound Of The Machine
04. Tell Me I’m Wrong
05. Nothing Left
06. Find My Own Way Out
07. Oxygen
08. My Death
09. You Are By Nature
10. Dark Clouds
11. Hit The Lights
12. Feline
13. When We Are Apart
14. My Guardian

Music: 9.5
Performance: 9.5
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9.3 / 10

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Massive Ego

Coming from a similar musical influence as myself, Marc Massive formed MASSIVE EGO in the mid-90s. With plenty of releases driven by the electronic New Romantic era, they later found success with a different line-up - and changed their direction to a darker electronic sound. The band has found its home in the electronic Goth scene. /

Music & Performance
I last reviewed MASSIVE EGO when they played at Static Darkness, Slimelight in 2019. There has been a line-up change since then, with Lloyd (THE FRIXION) back on keyboards and the addition of Kyle (AUGER) on keys and guitar. Marc, still at the front, and Oliver ponding the beats. Well to begin with, let me say, like AUGER the size of the venue has helped MASSIVE EGO’s sound, somehow it is transformed. But there is more to it than that. The sound has been padded out with the addition of Kyle and Lloyd, it’s a fuller, richer sound and has given another dimension to familiar songs such as ‘I Idolize You’. MASSIVE EGO seems to be on an express ride at the moment, working with the likes of Chris Pohl from BLUTENGEL.

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Of course, unfortunately it wasn’t viable for Chris to be here tonight. Having said that, this addition wasn’t needed. This weekend would mark the first of (I suspect) many for this line-up.

01. Not without Consequence
02. My Religion Is Dark
03. She Uses Sex
04. Dead Eyes Black
05. The Girl Who Finds Gifts From Crows
06. Let Go
07. I Idolize you
08. You Will Comply
09. For the Blood in Your Veins
10. Low Life
11. Malfunctioning Me
12. Nothing but a Void

Music: 9.5
Performance: 9.5
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9.3 / 10

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Lord of the Lost

One of the fine bands to come out of the German electro / metal cross over scene and now well established with links to big names such as KMFDM and talks of support for IRON MAIDEN. This is a band to watch, they are due and ready for big, big things. /

Music & Performance
I last saw LORD OF THE LOST supporting KMFDM, on quite a small stage, in a small venue. I was excited tonight to see them play here at a large venue. As I was stood waiting for the lights to dim, and for the band to arrive, from the (almost) luxury of the photography pit I could hear the guys revving themselves up. It sounded like a battle cry, a rousing chant, not unlike warrior-like rugby players!

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They exploded onto the stage riding on their burst of energy, good stuff. I knew this was going to be a special night, for all of us. Not only were they on brilliant form throughout, their energy, after being pent up during the pandemic was explosive. Perhaps a genuine excitement about being in the UK too? At last, after all the worries of Brexit? They make mention several times of their glee to be on stage, they seem to be genuinely pumped and ecstatic to be in Leeds this evening. The crowd went wild for them, it was one seething mass of extreme energy. LORD OF THE LOST did not disappoint. They should have headlined this evening - HRH if you are listening, us Goth’s want more of this! Oh, and on a big stage the band have awesome synchronised dance moves - very slick but slightly tongue in cheek humour too. Absolutely gob smacking performance!

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01. Priest
02. For They Know Not What They Do
03. Morgana
04. Sex on Legs
05. Born With a Broken Heart
06. Viva Vendetta
07. Drag Me to Hell
08. And It was Night
09. Dry the Rain
10. The Heartbeat of the Devil
11. La Bomba
12. Loreley
13. The Gospel of Judas
14. Ordinary World

Music: 9.5
Performance: 9.5
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9.3 / 10

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My Dying Bride

Doom metal since their inception in 1990 with 13 studio albums and plethora of other releases behind them. /

Music & Performance
As always, I’m honest in my reviewing - especially if I’m likely to be biased due to my musical preferences. I dislike doom metal. It bores me stupid. I was brought up by the saying “if you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. But then this would be the world’s shortest review. There, I have already padded it out to nearly a paragraph. They are fine musicians, that I am sure of - and top of their genre. But that’s where the problem lies, HRH Goth isn’t a Doom Metal Festival. Ok, there is an element of crossover, but as the venue now only had less than half the crowd that LORD OF THE LOST had, I think many Goths agreed with me and voted with their feet.

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The thought of an early night, beating the traffic to get home for a nice hot cocoa was preferable to dreary, drawn out gloomy (doomy) metal. I guess I’m a tad hypocritical after defending SEETHING AKIRA. But in my defence, I found SEETHING AKIRA entertaining - for me MY DYING BRIDE were dull, dull, dull. Sorry guys, respect for what you do, but it’s not for me.

01. The Wreckage of My Flesh
02. Like Gods of the Sun
03. Your Broken Shore
04. Like a Perpetual Funeral
05. For You
06. To Outlive the Gods
07. The Cry of Mankind
08. My Body, a Funeral
09. To Shiver in Empty Halls
10. She Is the Dark
11. Turn Loose the Swans

Music: 5
Performance: 8
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 7.5 / 10

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All pictures by Kevin Stevens

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