Metal Brew 2017 at Barnet Elizabethans Rugby Club, London - live review

North London stirs up a classic metal gathering

Art for Metal Brew 2017 live at Barnet Elizabethans Rugby Club, London

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Born more than 10 years ago, out of the love and hard work of a few people passionate about old-school heavy metal, every new edition of the intimate Metal Brew festival is a victory for London’s metal scene. The scattered crowd who have made the long journey to Barnet on a cold and gloomy Saturday are warmed by BLIND RIVER [6]. The classic heavy rock, infused with blues and country, gets the crowd dancing in front of the stage to catchy, upbeat tunes like Resurrection Sister and Going Nowhere. On a stage bedecked with West African-inspired imagery, VÔDÛN [8] frontwoman Oya’s powerful deep vocals are backed up by kickass female drummer Ogoun pounding away on African percussion instruments and riffs that have a Roots-era Sepultura flavour. This year’s definite highlight. AGNOSY’s [5] fast, heavy start sadly fails to extend beyond one-dimensional crustpunk that already becomes predictable before their first two songs are finished. SEVEN SISTERS [7] carry out their hearty and catchy NWOBHM that never quite excels but doesn’t disappoint either, thanks largely to the memorable guitar parts and the genuine passion on display, while guitarist Graeme Farmer’s glam outfit adds a bit of kinky novelty to their set. Armed with three guitars, violin and keyboard, folk-metal veterans SKYCLAD [8] seamlessly combine folk, rock and heavy metal in a way no other band can match. Georgina Biddle steals the show, effortlessly alternating between keyboard and violin and even stepping offstage to play in the middle of the crowd – a move emblematic of the band’s close relationship with the audience. Despite losing half his leg earlier this year in horrendous and unfortunate circumstances while on tour, GRIM REAPER’s [8] Steve Grimmett stays strong as ever at Metal Brew, delivering the same energising performance metalheads have come to expect and enjoy. His voice is in great shape whether in the wheelchair for Liar, played early on, or testing his new his new prosthetic leg later in the set. The band blast through many classic tracks from their first two albums, and end spectacularly with the perennial British metal anthem See You In Hell, bringing to a close a rather modest but still charming evening.