@O2 Academy Sheffield, September 30 2017

The first day of HRH’s riff-laden Sheffield shindig saw thousands of fans descend on South Yorkshire and get their groove on. Richard Holmes was there to get the lowdown…and Simon Dunkerley caught it all on camera.

Sons of the Steel City

While She Sleeps and Bring Me The Horizon may grab the headlines and arena shows, but have a poke around in the Sheffield underground and you’ll unearth plenty more talent – and a diverse scene – bubbling just underneath the surface.

Saturday’s main stage reverberated to the molten sludge of Kurokuma and the gasoline spitting stoner thrust of Regulus, while on the second stage, Awooga took us on a psych-fuelled trip across the cosmos. Metal, it seems, is thriving in a city built from steel.

 

The power of three

There’s more to HRH Doom Vs Stoner than Sabbath worship and crushing sludge, much more. Stoke trio Red Spektor brought a looser, bluesy vibe to Saturday afternoon, and any budding guitarists in the crowd would have been transfixed by John Scane’s rich, dextrous fretwork. The lad can play, that’s for sure, and he provided a welcome detour from Iommian soundscapes and NOLA-inspired savagery.

 

 

Wigan warriors

These are heady times for Boss Keloid.

The Wigan quartet have just finished recording their latest opus and they look set to take on the world, if Saturday’s set was anything to go by. It wasn’t just because of singer Alex Hurst’s performance – he came a close second to Orange Goblin’s Ben Ward for frontman of the day. It wasn’t just because of their immense sound, which is akin to riding a wave of liquid groove. It was because they write quirky, imaginative, immersive songs like Hot Priest, tracks which will surely elevate them to headline status very soon.

Leaders of the pack? Well, in the UK, there are few acts with as much potential as Boss Keloid, that’s for sure.

March of the Saint

That subterranean guitar tone. Those wild, chaotic solos. The tritones, trills and thrills. Saint Vitus presented a masterclass in doom that left jaws on the floor and spines tingling. With Scott Reagers now back at the helm, the quartet pulled their set from albums like Saint Vitus, Hallow’s Victim And Die Healing, with War Is Our Destiny and Burial At Sea in particular giving every young band here a lesson in groove. Plus, we had the chance to see Pat Bruders – of Down and Crowbar fame – add his four string rumble to the mix.

Respect too, for Dave Chandler. The bandana-clad guitarist entered and left the stage on crutches due to a serious leg injury, but he stood tall, wielding his flying-V and at one point, playing it with his teeth. What a guy.

They came back…

Orange Goblin returned to HRH Doom Vs Stoner after playing the inaugural event last year. And we’re glad they did. For if you want a band who can consistently deliver, rouse a rabble and party hard on a Saturday night, you can’t get much better.

More a British metal institution than a stoner rock act, the quartet – marshalled by the gigantic Ben Ward – ensured that every drop of sweat was rung from a packed dancefloor. And they did it with the help of titanic anthems like They Come Back (dedicated here to the late George A. Romero), Scorpionica, Quincy The Pigboy and Some You Win, Some You Lose.

With a grinning Dave Chandler watching from the bar and Pat Bruders at one point lending a hand with some backing vocals, their set felt like a celebration, an ode to the eternal power of the riff.

Another triumph, then, for the loveable Londoners. And a fitting finale to this festival’s first day.