Tag Archives: Skies In Motion

DERBY ALT FEST 2.0 – The Hairy Dog, Derby, 30/09/2017

Derby Alt Fest 2.0 poster


As September drew to a close, The Hairy Dog, fast establishing itself as a key venue on the Derby music scene, played host to an all-day rock and metal festival comprising of many local bands, with a few coming from out of town especially, including headliners To Kill Achilles, who had travelled all the way down from Dundee.

The weather wasn’t very good, and unfortunately, some of the outfits scheduled to play had to pull out prior to the day, but it seemed, in the run-up to the opening act, everybody there was in good spirits.

Getting the second Derby Alt Fest off to a loud, energetic start were A Hundred Crowns, a six-piece from Nottingham.

They were initially going to open proceedings on the second stage, situated upstairs, but were moved to the main stage.

Entering the room containing the main stage, I couldn’t help but laugh at seeing a large arrow hanging from above with “TWAT” written in big letters, but anyway, back to the opening band, and despite playing in front of a sparse attendance, which unfortunately often is the case with the first outfit on, they played a gutsy, intense fusion of metalcore and post-hardcore, with a mix of harsh and melodic vocals.

A Hundred Crowns gig photo

Being relatively new, their set was rather limited in terms of songs, but what they didn’t have in quantity they had in quality.

Finishing off with their debut single, ‘The Highs’, A Hundred Crowns got a good reception from the few people who were there.

Next up on the main stage were fellow Nottingham outfit Infirm Of Purpose, who also had a debut single to promote.

Their set comprised of an intense metal sound, backed up by synthesisers and turntables. The use of these instruments gave the five-piece, of which two had helped to organise the whole day, a electronicore and dubstep flavour.

Infirm Of Purpose gig photo

Watching frontman Josh Blackshaw give a performance abundant in high energy, I wouldn’t have been surprised if prior to going on stage, he had drunk about ten cans of Red Bull.

As their half-hour came to an end, the crowd area had started to fill up, with two or three bobbing their heads aggressively to the music.

However, by the time thrash metallers Hellrazor started on stage, the audience had trickled down to a select few.

Not that there seemed to be any anger from the band about this, their vocalist actually took the opportunity to make a few tongue-in-cheek references, one of which being, “Hope you enjoyed that, all four of you!

Hellrazor band photo

Regardless of this, the set was enjoyable, with the local outfit playing passionately, with catchy riffs and heavy headbangers galore, influenced by “The Big Four” of metal, as well as more classic collectives of the genre.

Hellrazor were also a member down, and Tom, a guitarist who had come in at the last minute to fill in, did a stellar job. It was like he had been a part of the band for years.

After that, it was time to venture upstairs to the second stage to see local metalcore six-piece Buried And Forgotten, where the room was so compact, not all of the members could stand on the stage, so the two vocalists decided to perform in front.

Being in such a confined space, you could really get up close to them, literally feeling the sweat pouring from their foreheads as the whole band opted for full-on aggression.

Buried And Forgotten band photo

The frontmen even got one of the merchandise people to come and join them for a brief mosh. With both of them having long hair, it was as if the merchandiser was being enveloped by their flowing locks.

After all of that, it was back downstairs for This.Is.Hate’s set. Having chatted earlier in the day with the band’s lead vocalist, and another festival organiser, Liam Barlow, he had told me that he saved up all of his aggression for the stage, and judging by his stage presence, he was right.

This.Is.Hate gig photo

With a sound, that in Liam’s words, was “heavy as fuck!“, you could tell that the outfit were pouring their souls into producing the best possible live set.

With some of their set list, they also showcased a groovier and heavier sound, which shows how mature the guys are becoming with their songwriting.

Immediately following them were Bury The Traitor. The Derby quintet had a heavy yet melodic sound that drew from a wide range of musical influences, and they used the stage as a good opportunity on which to exploit this to a high standard.

Bury The Traitor gig photo

They took their music seriously, but didn’t let it get in the way of them having a great time during their performance, with all five of the band seeming to bond really well as a unit, which definitely came across while I was watching them.

Serious” is probably a word alien to Raised By Owls, judging by their eccentricities, which were on full show during their time on stage.

From the moment they entered to the theme tune from Ski Sunday, I knew that it wasn’t in their nature to play a bog-standard set.

Television theme tunes played an important role throughout, acting as little intervals between the tracks, with the crowd also being treated to the themes of Chucklevision and Murder, She Wrote.

Raised By Owls gig photo

The songs themselves showcased effectively their brand of surreal humour, with avant-garde lyrics set to snarling vocals and very heavy guitar riffs.

As well as moshing to the angry sound, the audience were in fits of laughter.

If there had been an award given out to the most original band of the day, Raised By Owls would have won by a country mile.

I had had the pleasure of interviewing Skies In Motion when I had been at the Macmillan Fest in Nottingham at the beginning of September.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to see them that day as their stage time clashed with an interview I was doing.

Skies In Motion band photo

This meant that this time, I was determined not to miss them, and I’m glad I didn’t, as they were impressive throughout, playing a number of well-crafted compositions, taken from both their overwhelmingly positively received recent debut album, ‘Life Lessons’, and other offerings.

In the past, the band have played with the likes of Killswitch Engage and Skindred, and after seeing their excellent performance, the passion they put into everything they do, and their rapidly rising profile, the local outfit are seemingly well on their way to emulating those two.

Another of the collectives that I can comfortably say have a strong work ethic were headliners To Kill Achilles.

To Kill Achilles band photo

The Scotsmen’s job was to bring proceedings on the main stage, and the entire day, to a close, and they did it in some style, literally raising the roof off with a powerful set comprising of a unique brand of melodic metalcore, incorporating the use of other musical genres such as pop, rock and emo, coupled with frank and personal lyrics.

All in all, the festival was a great way of boosting the profile of Derby on the British rock and metal scene, full of entertaining bands that were truly passionate about what they played, but were not afraid to enjoy themselves as well.

I presume, judging by this year’s success, that the Derby Alt Fest 3.0 is on the cards for 2018.






Skies In Motion band photo

SKIES IN MOTION (from l-r): Sam Gaines (drums), Dan Wheeler (bass), Adam Connor (vocals), Andy Shaw (guitar), Dave Stewart (guitar)


On the current British metal scene, one of the emerging outfits worth keeping an eye on are Skies In Motion.

A five-piece from Derby, they have already achieved quite a bit for saying that their debut full-length album, ‘Life Lessons’, was only released recently.

With a sound that is anthemic and intense, containing catchy hooks, raw riffs, and delivered with much passion and skill, the band have garnered praise from Rock Sound magazine and Alex Baker of Kerrang! Radio, as well as sharing stages with the likes of Killswitch Engage and Skindred.

Despite drummer Sam Gaines hurting one of his legs a few days prior, him and his bandmates were determined to put on a good show for their growing following at Nottingham’s Macmillan Fest.

Here’s what the quintet had to say when I chatted with them before their set:

How did the band get together?

DAN WHEELER (bass): That person’s not here! (laughs) Out of the four of us that are here, only Sam is as close as there is to an original member. How did the band get together, Sam? Take your wildest guess.

SAM GAINES (drums): The band formed out of the ashes of a uni project of Andy’s, which was between him and our original bassist. I think that was at the end of 2008.

They asked me if I wanted to join in 2009, initially just for a one-off gig. I had been in a band with a guy called Matt Bradley, and that’s pretty much how it started.

About eight months later, they asked me to join permanently.

From where did the name Skies In Motion originate?

SAM: Andy has explained this to me. They started up the band, but they didn’t have a name. Basically, they sat down and, it’s a really boring story, but basically…

ADAM CONNOR (vocals): Didn’t Andy say the name didn’t have any meaning?

SAM: Yeah. Apparently, there was a beautiful painting on the wall in the room where they were sat down. The painting had a sky in it, and one of them came out with “skies” and then, the “in motion” part came later, so yeah, it’s a really boring story.

ADAM: I really like the name though.

DAVE STEWART (guitar): It’s kind of stuck with us.

SAM: I should have come up with a better story!

(All laugh)

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

DAVE: Me and Andy are sort of the chief music writers. We bounce off each other quite a lot, so we’ll sit in, it will either be my flat or a practice room or somewhere, and we’ll just play riffs until something gels.

We’re very meticulous about it, we’ll literally keep crafting and going back and tweaking until we think that we’ve got, not the perfect riff, but as close to it as we can get.

Adam, your approach to writing lyrics is completely different, isn’t it?

ADAM: Yeah, I just write about my miserable life and then put it to Dave’s masterpiece.

DAVE: I think Andy sweeps in as well every now and again, putting all of the riffs together, and writing it almost like a pop song, like, you come up with a composition which has to be well crafted, it can’t just be a load of riffs, there has to be an interlude to make sure it all gels well, and it has to be catchy too.

DAN: Pop which makes you want to punch people.

DAVE: Yeah, pretty much! (laughs)

DAN: That’s the goal.

The band released their debut album, ‘Life Lessons’, recently. How was the recording process?

DAN: It was a lengthy recording process, but it was worthwhile. It took a long time, what with it being our first full album. We recorded it with Sam’s brother Ben, and we wanted to make sure that we spent the recording time making sure it was the best it could possibly be.

The response that we’ve had so far has made all that time spent worth it.

DAVE: It was a very eye-opening process working on the production and the sound. Ben really pushed us to make it as good as it possibly could. We had to go back so many times and change different things, but we’re really happy with how it has turned out.

You went on a headline tour last month. How was that?

ADAM: Yeah, it was great. We played with The Cartographer, who are very good friends of ours. They stepped in at the last minute, as our original support had to drop out.

The response was amazing, the venues we played were fantastic, everyone really got involved. We can’t wait to go back on tour again soon.

The band have supported the likes of Killswitch Engage and Skindred. It must have been rather surreal playing with some of the bands that you all grew up listening to.

ADAM: Oh God, yeah.

DAN: Killswitch Engage was a bit special. They had cancelled some of their festival slots, and they had to basically had to book some new gigs while they were over here.

ADAM: And they all sold out in a day.

DAN: We were put forward to support them, and it was just surreal. We couldn’t believe it. I think it was only Dave’s third, fourth gig with us.

DAVE: Yeah, it was the fourth gig after I joined the band, and we were playing with bloody Killswitch! I look back now, and I still can’t believe it actually happened.

For me personally, and for the rest of us, it’s probably the coolest thing we have done up to now.

DAN: One of my first gigs with the band was a Stars in Their Eyes-type thing, where we actually played as Killswitch, so to go on and actually play with them was mental. A dream come true.

ADAM: One of my favourite bands ever. Growing up, myself and I can imagine the rest of us, we were watching Killswitch on TV or listening to them. To come out and play in what was basically their crowd…

DAN: If we hadn’t been supporting them, we’d have been in the crowd watching them.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

DAN: Up until recently, it was to release a full album, but we’ve done that now, so our next goal is to get onto the festival circuit next year.

We’re doing another headline run across the UK next month promoting the new album, and we’ll just keep on going forward from there.

We’d love to play to some big crowds, so festivals are the next goal, I think.

ADAM: We’d also like to tour the US one day.

DAN: Record another album, write new music. We had a European tour booked for next month, but it fell through, and we would very much like to re-book that in the near future.

ADAM: Yeah, we have some Romanian friends who make home-made Romanian alcohol, so we’d like to try some of that.

DAN: Yeah, definitely. So, we’d like to tour Europe, play some big festivals, and start working on another album. Those are the plans, anyway.

Skies In Motion album cover




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MACMILLAN FEST 2017 – Nottingham, 02/09/2017

Macmillan Fest 2017 poster


PHOTOS of The Treatment by CALLUM GROVE

As the summer festival season drew to a close for another year, a corner of the centre of Nottingham was taken over by the Macmillan Fest, which was now in its eighth year raising money and awareness for the great cause that is Macmillan Cancer Support, and has become a fixture of the city’s rock music calendar.

This was my second time covering it for this site, and in terms of the weather on the day, there was no comparison to the first.

Last year, the festival took place under grey skies and torrential rain, but this year, it was blue skies and glorious sunshine all the way.

With the opening bands kicking off their sets around half past one, I got to the press accreditation tent, situated around the back of the legendary venue that is Rock City, as the clock struck 1pm.

Having got my wristband and press pass, I made my way into the Black Cherry Lounge, an adjacent nightclub that was doubling for the day as a press and band preparation area.

There, you could see roadies shifting equipment about, vocalists undertaking rigorous singing exercises, and musicians making final tweaks to their instruments before they ventured on stage.

With my first interview of the day, with Welsh post-hardcore quartet Holding Absence, under my belt, it was time to head over to the Rescue Rooms, which was playing host to the majority of the day’s sets, with the building holding three of the stages. It lacks the prestige of its neighbour, but is a great venue nonetheless.

Opening up the place’s main stage were local metal five-piece Centurion. They had earned that spot on the bill after winning the festival’s Battle of the Bands competition back in June, and judging by their live performance, it was easy to see how they had won.

Centurion gig photo

The set was delivered with much feistiness, whether it was coming from the strong vocals and stage presence of frontwoman Esme Knight, or the band’s sound, much influenced by the classic metal of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and “The Big Four”.

It must have been daunting for them to be the opening act, what with being handed the task of warming up the crowd, who at this point in proceedings, had yet to really get into the swing of things, but after seeing the band perform such a confident set, actively involving themselves with the audience, it seems to have been taken with relish.

Directly upstairs from this, another band native to Nottingham were playing another strong set.

Say The Word are classed as a pop-punk outfit, but their sound is not stereotypical of the genre, with the quartet also taking influence from the likes of the Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen.

Say The Word band photo

With more of a compact space, the crowd were able to get up, close and personal with the band members, who all performed with high energy, which by its conclusion, had left them, and much of the patrons, covered in sweat.

Currently enjoying a rising reputation, this was probably the last time you would have had the opportunity to see them play such an intimate stage.

After that, I decided to cool down by taking a little stroll outside around the back of the Rescue Rooms, where there were stalls offering free samples of whisky, charity head shaves, clothing and other merchandise, as well as a barbecue and a raffle (with a cuddly Chewbacca as one of the main prizes).

Then, it was back to the Black Cherry Lounge to conduct some interviews, which you will be able to see on this site shortly.

All of the bands I chatted with, including locals Skies In Motion and Beckon Lane, Lincoln outfit Borders, and one of the headliners, Hacktivist, who had recently supported Korn, were comprised of nice, down-to-earth guys. You could tell that they were there to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause, rather than using the festival as an opportunity to inflate their egos.

One of these were metalcore five-piece Our Hollow, Our Home, who were performing a stone’s throw away in the basement of Rock City, and their set will be looked back on by the people who were there to see them as one of the highlights of the day.

Our Hollow, Our Home band photo

The Southampton quintet certainly knew how to work the crowd, with heavy sounds that made you feel as if there was an earthquake going on, and the frontman actively encouraging the crowd to form a moshpit, which gradually grew from just a few die-hard fans at the front, to, by the set’s conclusion, pretty much the entire room, creating an electric atmosphere.

On my way to the Rescue Rooms to see one of the main draws, heavy rock five-piece The Treatment, I bumped into a devout fan of theirs who told me that this would be the 13th time he had seen them live.

Having not seen them play in the flesh once, I thought they must put on a great show if they’re good enough to have been seen that many times, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Treatment gig photo 1

The Cambridge outfit are now at the stage where they can attract a devoted following wherever they play, and this was made clear with the almighty roar, more akin to that experienced at a football match, the crowd gave when they emerged onto stage.

They started playing at full throttle, and even towards the end of their hour-and-a-bit set, not one of the band members showed any signs of slowing down, performing with energy in abundance.

The Treatment gig photo 2

The quintet’s enthusiasm was matched by the audience, who were eagerly singing along, word for word, to the lyrics, even to the tracks from their most recent album ‘Generation Me’, as well as bobbing their heads to a sound that was a mix of classic rock, heavy metal and punk.

The Treatment gig photo 4

The Treatment really do know how to work a crowd, with frontman Mitch Emms issuing rallying cries in between an intense vocal delivery, and the guitarists, comprising of two brothers, treating them to some great riffery.

The Treatment gig photo 3

I would highly recommend seeing this band at your earliest opportunity, because in this age of Autotune, much choreography and where image is seen as more important than talent, it was refreshing to see something where real rock ‘n’ roll played by gifted musicians took centre stage.

Some have said in the recent past that rock is dead, but judging from what I saw across the stages, these people must have a defeatist attitude, because if you look beyond the mainstream and delve just a little into the underground, you will pleasantly find that it is actually in very rude health.

My review can’t end without me acknowledging everyone who selflessly gave up their free time and worked incredibly hard in order to make sure such a substantial event ran like clockwork, and that as much money and awareness as possible was raised for Macmillan Cancer Support, a great charity that helps people unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with a terrible illness that has devastated the lives of many people over the years.