Festival Preview: Uprising 6

Festival Preview: Uprising 6
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Tim Finch

That Uprising Festival is in its sixth year is cause enough for celebration, especially when you consider how ruthless the enforced shutdowns were during those Covid years. Many a small festival would have fallen by the way, but it is a testament to the popularity and good management that the likes of Uprising - and Stonedead, etc. – have lived to fight another day.

Beginning life at Leicester’s iconic DeMontfort Hall in 2016, before relocating in 2019 to the current environs of the O2 Academy just across town, Uprising has played host to some of the scene’s best established and up and coming acts. From headliners Phil Campbell, Primordial, Napalm Death and Orange Goblin, to old-school scene leaders like Onslaught, Lawnmower Deth, Diamond Head and Raging Speedhorn, through to tomorrow’s festival draws Ward XVI, Witchsorrow and OHHMS.

Taking top billing this year is Halifax merchants of misery and general national treasure, Paradise Lost. Having been around since 1988 and one of the original Peaceville Three, Paradise Lost is cited as being a major influence by bands as diverse as HIM and Nightwish through to Anathema and Cradle of Filth.

Through the early years, the Yorkshire crew plumbed the depths of misery with the doom-death classics like Gothic and Shades of God, seeing their first stylistic shift for 1993’s Icon, which followed a more gothic path. A couple of years later and Draconian Times would shift some serious units and break the Top Thirty in Germany, the Low Countries and across Scandinavia, as well as here at home.

Paradise Lost musical nomadism continued through the end of the nineteen-nineties with One Second, a darker and more electronic sounding record. After Draconian Times’ Heavy Metal aesthetic, One Second may well have polarised some of the fan base, but nothing prepared them for 1999’s Host.

Having started the decade with the grimly melancholic Lost Paradise, they were ending it with a collection of electro-rock, dark wave synthpop experimentation that, if nothing else, proved here was a band totally unafraid to take chances.

Since the millennium Paradise Lost have incorporated the electronic elements into their traditional sound on a further nine albums and have been ferocious road dogs ever since their inception. And with multiple Downloads, Bloodstocks and Damnations - not to mention a plethora of European events – under their belts, Paradise Lost’s Uprising debut is assuredly going to be a special show.

US industrial titans, Combichrist are all set to make their first UK festival appearance since Bloodstock 2018’s triumphal show. With 2023 being the twentieth anniversary, the aggrotech combo is promising an Old School set so we can expect to be hearing electronic dance vibes from The Joy of Gunz debut or some of Everybody Hates You’s dirty riffs.

The prospect of God Wrapped in Plastic’s EBM meets Ministry drive, Joy to the World’s unholy hypnotism or This Shit Will Fuck You Up’s clearly confrontational stance mesmerising the Academy will be a sight – and sound – to behold.

The squarest peg in Uprising’s round hole for 2023 is Nottingham’s Palm Reader. Beginning their recording career with 2012’s self-titled EP, the Post Hardcore lads might not be the heaviest band on the bill, but what they may lack in sheer aggression is more than compensated by the insanely discordant sounds they produce.

From the debut full-length, Bad Weather, in 2013 through to 2020’s phenomenal Sleepless, Palm Reader have consistently blown minds and frazzled synapses with every release. Their move to Church Road Records for the last record showed both parties were serious about things and the appearance at Uprising should begin to establish them as being a live experience to be taken seriously.

Of all the bands on the bill this year, Palm Reader is the one I’m probably most looking forward to seeing; if they bring the fire and ferocity of their recorded work to the live arena then Uprising could be theirs for the taking.

Andy Marshall brings his one-man Folk Black Metal project Saor to Leicester. It’s been almost a year since the release of album number five, Origins, and it’s high time those epic tales of ancient Caledonian history and its bleak landscapes were committed to music.

In the same way the frozen forests of Scandinavia are evoked in the Second Wave’s use of hypnotic repetition, so the glens and lochs of primeval Scotland are illustrated in Saor’s vast soundscapes. The use of traditional instrumentation against modern recording techniques reinforces the sense of scale and the weight of history. If they ever did Braveheart: The Musical, then Andy should be the man to score it.

Formed in 2010, Skarlett Riot wasted no time at all in getting this Rock & Roll thing going and by the time they joined Gus G – of Firewind and Ozzy’s band – on his UK tour in 2015 the band were already a full-length and three EPs into their career.

Straight out of Scunthorpe the four-piece have remained consistent, other than a couple of changes in the bass department, and have shown a definite refining of their sound since the punkier vibes of Tear Me Down to a fuller and more punishing attack on latest record, Invicta. No strangers to the festival stage, Skarlett Riot were given about ten-minutes notice that they’d be opening the Sunday main stage at last years’ Bloodstock following big win with the fans.

Hometown heroes = my hometown, not Leicester - Boss Keloid released their fifth album, Family the Smiling Thrush back in 2021. This new record signalled something of a departure from the stoner-doom of the early records, though Angular Beef Lesson and The Calming Influence of Teeth were not without hints of what was to come.

The latest record is anything-but lacking in ambition and is a colossal monument to Progressive Rock, both modern and traditional. Filled with sharp, cutting riffs and emotionally wrought passages, all juxtaposed against gritty psychedelia, the spirit of Opeth is at times evoked, in that you’ll find yourself engaged cerebrally and grabbed in the places only great Rock music can. We’ll probably all need to sit quietly for five minutes afterward, just to reflect on what happened.

London Extreme Progressive outfit, Damim, were all set to conquer back in the noughties with the releases of Purity: The Darwinian Paradox in 2005 and a couple of years later with The Different Engine. But fate had different ideas for Nathanael Underwood who, after a spell with similarly progressive extremists, Akercocke, remade the band, eventually releasing the imperious A Fine Game of Nihil in 2019.

The band’s set on the Bloodstock New Blood Stage that year was preceded by much buzz and anticipation and proved to be a roaring triumph. Then that pesky pandemic happened and derailed everything.

Still, Damim have something to prove and Uprising will give them the platform from which to launch the next assault on the scene. Expect necks to be snapped and faces ripped.

To make an issue of Hawxx being an all-female collective is to do a disservice to them as a band and all ladies who crank out fearsome riffs for our pleasure. What matters is whether Hawxx have the chops to cut it and, by the evidence of their recorded output, that is demonstrated in spades.

Their take on Alternative Metal is gaining support wherever they set up and play, with tours in support of Tremonti and a slot at this year’s Download Festival, locking horns with big-hitters Slipknot, Parkway Drive and Ghost to name but a few.

And, if that wasn’t enough, summer of 2023 will see the release of Hawxx’s debut full-length; the future certainly look rosy for this quartet as Uprising may well be playing host to a rising star.

Uprising veterans, Internal Conflict, hail from Leicester and have been serving up their own particular brand of thrashing metalcore since 2007’s Monarch 9 x 18 EP. The first full-length record emerged eight years later in the shape of 2015’s The Rising Tide, with another six-year gap until 2021’s APORIA.

Expect off-kilter rhythms and huge walls of unrelenting sound as the band pummel the Academy again. Such unbridled brutality so early in the day is quite possibly a direct contravention of the Human Rights Act.

Another group of local lads, Blood Oath, are also no strangers to the Uprising set-up, having been victorious in 2017’s Metal to the Masses competition. The Death-Thrashers went on attempt to entice punters away from Testament and Decapitated at Catton Park that year.

Their first album, Kingdom of Dead Souls was released to support that show in 2017, with the follow up Infernum Rex Diabolus arriving a couple of years later. Never a band to kill you with too much speed, what Blood Oath bring is a barbaric bludgeoning of heavy riffs and a ripping Death Metal aesthetic, reminiscent of those early exponents of the scene.

Set to open proceedings are London duo, Lowen, bringing their style of progressive doom to Leicester. 2018’s A Crypt in the Stars leans toward an Electric Wizard sound and lays out the bands intention to great effect. Whereas 2021’s Unceasing Lamentations EP takes a more esoteric path and focuses on the influence of Middle Eastern music on Lowen’s creativity.

Eleven top quality bands in one day cannot be sniffed at, especially when all possible tastes are reasonably catered for. Uprising 2023 looks to be a brilliant gateway into the year’s festival season and it certainly sets a high bar for all shows that follow. The only worry is where the breaks are going to come, as every band here is worthy of your full attention.

See you all at the Academy – I’ll probably be wearing a black T-shirt with a band on it!

All photo credits: Tim Finch Photography

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