By Shane Douthwaite
S.O.P.H.I.E. Festival was organised by Scot Reedy of Metalheart Promotions in order to raise money and support for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in the Manchester area. Started in 2011, S.O.P.H.I.E. Fest combines talent from all over the country to draw recognition and provides something for everyone, even elitists of obscure sub genres of metal.
S.O.P.H.I.E. Fest 2012 took place on 10th November at the Longfield Suite, Prestwich in Manchester and featured an array of rock and metal talent…and pole dancers. The range of genres featured and the publicity should have attracted hordes of metalheads, yet there seemed to be barely 50 people there all day, most of which were with or part a band! But this shameful lack of support for such a worthy cause didn’t deter the bands from providing a highly entertaining day of music.
Growly vocalled mic-men were the order of the day for many, bands like Yakavetta and Candid Iniquity utilised the metal core sound in a very similar way, contrasting the growls with clean backing vocals. However Lazarus Syndrome were like an audio battery on the senses, opting to show no quarter with a vocalist similar to a Dalek with a throat infection. Awaker are a female fronted band that showed a similar gusto and even played a cover of Annihilator. No Man’s Legion also showed no mercy and smashed a cover of Motorhead’s The Game. Explicitly lyrical Footprints in the Custard are an old school thrash band that genuinely don’t give a f*ck! When you play your set in dresses, kilts and bras you’d better be entertaining, and that’s exactly what FitC are.
My hunger for epic and cheesy metal was satisfied with huge doses of soaring vocals and face-melting, pant-filling guitar work. Dishing up this sort of regal delicacy were power metallers Dakesis, Winter Storm and Ascension. Dakesis are quite simply one of the most entertaining bands you can ever see, with three amazing voices and a duel guitar bromance which saw them playing each other’s guitars in a scrum-like embrace they stole the show. Winter Storm’s sound has a darker edge but was still equally as enjoyable. Ascension have a huge modern power metal sound similar to Enforcer and Steelwing and absolutely blew me away with their performance; highly energetic and a vocalist with a huge voice!
Cryptic Age delivered their usual brand of immense folk/power metal and played a highly entertaining set on the second stage, The Joan Swift Stage. Opening band DamageScape were forced to play an acoustic set, due to the lack of a drummer. Perhaps the fact that they were playing acoustically made them sound folk-ier than usual but who cares, they sounded awesome nonetheless!
My Wooden Pillow, Luminova, Murderpuss and Hull’s own Pastel Jack each impressed the eager crowd with their take on the expansive Alt. rock genre. MWP and Murderpuss both have similar sounds to our own local alternative masters, Incubated, but Murderpuss had a slight punk edge to their sound. Luminova draw influence from Alter Bridge and Black Spiders alike to create a unique sound; and the drummer is the vocalist, which is cool. Pastel Jack played a staple set of their standard fan favourites during which they were their usual selves; Neil and Pete went for a walk into the corridor while still playing, Tom knocked everything over and Dave sighed and carried on.
The headlining bands, Beholder (Main Stage) and Savage Outlaw (Joan Swift Stage) both played sets worthy of the top bill spots. Savage Outlaw were my favourite band of the day, their whiskey soaked southern rock influenced sound fused Black Stone Cherry and Ram Jam perfectly. With covers of BSC’s White Trash Millionaire, Ram Jam’s Black Betty and Soil’s Halo their set made me an instant fanboy. Beholder’s no nonsense, ballsy heavy metal sound was the perfect way to end a day of awesome metal entertainment and their track Never Take Us Down, the official Sophie Lancaster Foundation anthem, was obviously a well-received gesture.
Conclusively, the S.O.P.H.I.E festival was an awesome portrayal of rock fans from all backgrounds coming together to support a great cause, and although it was a long, stressful day for everyone involved, the organisers seemed to keep a cool head throughout and ensure the festival ran as smoothly as possible. What we would like to see on the lineup next year is an even better variation of bands!