On the 19th, 20th and 21st of August, we attended the first ever Metal Fringe Festival at the Empire in Leeds! The organisers, Neil Short, Beth Hallam, Chris Charlesworth, and David Massen did an excellent job of running the event as everyone in attendance, even the bands, immensely enjoyed all three nights and thought that the event ran like clockwork! There were no egos, no bull…just 15 great bands, hundreds of enthusiastic fans and a feeling of support between the bands that none of us have ever experienced at a festival before. Simon filmed all the bands and footage is steadily making it's way onto the Metal Fringe Youtube page.

Kicking off the Metal Fringe on the Friday was Deep in the Mire, who formed two years ago. They were a great opening act as the atmosphere escalated as they began to play. We thought that they were really passionate about their music and they put their heart into every song that they played making it into an awesome performance and we look forward to seeing them again. Their major influences range from the more mellow sounds of Jeff Buckley to the rock icons of Alice in Chains and Whitesnake. They aspire to play at Wembley but (to our surprise) would rather play at small local venues than large gigs. At the moment they have a single out (available for download) and are releasing their EP at the end of the year.
Up next was The Boneyard, the only 'gravecore' act of the festival. They attracted a few head bangers along with their usual crowd. They had an excellent stage presence; they rarely stood still and their performance was really energetic. In their interview with us, they said that their influences were The Human Abstract, Marilyn Manson and Protest the Hero. They announced a possible tour at the end of the year and as for future gigs, they're playing at the Cockpit in Leeds on October 15th so we recommend you definitely go and check them out! In the next year, they are hoping to maintain their current success and are hopeful to one day play at Bloodstock. Their motto? 'Play hard and party harder'
The penultimate act of the night was Harrogate-based PseudoNympho. The vocalist 'Wolfgang' has an amazing voice and is not one to be tamed. Throughout the performance he was constantly moving around on stage, creating an atmosphere in the room that seemed to indicate that if you were watching… you should be moving, involving as many people as he could! As well as their own originals (including a song based on the people that watch and appear on Jeremy Kyle, called "Don't Feed The Animals") they also played a hard-rock cover of the 'Paparazzi' by Lady Gaga. The crowd seemed to appreciate the improvements the guys have made, and even sang along! (including us of course). When we spoke to them, they said that their influences include The Wildhearts, Alter Bridge and Alice in Chains. They began in 2006 and will be releasing an EP in October, and an album in January. They also have their own label called 'Bunny Snot Records'. From being able to see them live, we would recommend that you listen to them! They have had various line up changes but have assured us that they are now settled and are looking forward to the future. Future gigs include the 2nd of September 2011 at The Snooty Fox in Wakefield

The headline act of Friday night was Down the Machine. Vocalist Steve Wilson and Guitarist Danny Millikin originally formed the band. Bassist Neil "Shortie" Short joined last year and drummer Mark Greenwood is the latest addition. Critics, fans and band members alike agree that the addition of Mark has given the band something that it has been missing to give it last push towards greatness! A fact proven as Shortie informed us that Down The Machine would be headlining the Oxfam tent at Leeds Fest this year. They were eagerly anticipated by everyone there, including all the staff. As they were the headliners, they were under pressure to put on an outstanding performance for the Metal Fringe, and that's exactly what they did. The audience were enthralled with their performance on stage and sung along to the more known songs. Drawing possibly the largest crowd of the weekend, Down The Machine were also the first band to be called back for an encore!

Speaking after the night was over, the guys were amazed at the turnout for their set, and for being called to do an encore. Steve said it was one of the most humbling experiences of being in the band, and the first encore they'd ever been asked to do! Drawing inspiration from bands like Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana, they may seem more grunge than metal, but these guys blew to roof off the Empire! (quite a feat since the gig was performed underground!) Overall their performance was amazing and we're looking forward to Neil coming down to the YUBS again so we can have a proper chat with him about Leeds Fest, the future of Down the Machine and the aftermath ofMF2011!

Saturday rolls around and we expected the largest crowd of the weekend as Mishkin headline; and with the following that Chasing Dragons is accruing and the other bands will be attracting as well - plus the fact that people haven't just been at work all day, or getting ready for work the next day - and we were proved right, the Empire steadily filled throughout the night, with crowds coming and growing as each act took to the stage...

First up was Further From The Truth. During their set they engaged well with the audience as lead singer Kat joined the crowd and wandered around whilst belting out the lyrics. A very enjoyable performance and another great act to kick of another day of the Metal Fringe. As a band, they formed in October 2008, Nick and James as the founders. They have a self titled EP and are bringing out an acoustic limited edition soon! During our conversation with them they mentioned that their main influences were Guns and Roses and Metallica and they hope sometime in the future that they get the opportunity to play a festival. Future gigs include Wakefield's Rock 'n' Wrestle, and Carpe Diem while they have already done a tour of London and Wales. The message from the band to their fans? 'ROCK ON' … better do as they say!

Project Metropolis was the second performance that night. They've been going for 7 years, with their major influence being 'Miss May I'. They have a self-titled album and are playing the Cockpit on the 15th of October as a support to Everything Burns. Project Metropolis have also, in their time, won a battle of the bands which enabled them to play at Ghost Fest. In the interview they also mentioned they would like a shout out to 'JAKE HAUSER', so there you go. Overall their performance was packed full of energy and very intriguing. At the end of their set, they were called to do an encore, but having gotten through their usual set, the band had to repeat one of their earlier songs. The crowd didn't mind the repetition of a song because of the atmosphere they created when they played, which gave them a stand-out performance - you have our word! They're a light hearted bunch of guys with a good sense of humour as they interacted withthe crowd, We recommend they should prepare a few more tracks for encores as there will no doubt be many more in the future!
Next band to play was the newly formed Chasing Dragons who have only been playing together since January this year. Following their performance we were amazed that the band haven't been playing togetherlonger, as they have such great chemistry and an overall sound that seems like it's been perfected over manyyears. On stage they had a positive attitude toward everyone there and constantly interacted with the crowd.Lead vocalist Laurie 'Tank' Carnan left the stage to mingle with the crowd during the set, despite recovering from recent knee surgery!. Their band influences were different to the other bands that we'd talked to so far as they had more modern influences like Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold. They're recording their EP in October which is due to be out early next year. They aspire to play at Download like many other bands and also mentioned that it would be good to play out of England, possibly in Japan. As we were intrigued by their name, we asked them where they got their inspiration from. 'Playing video games, since most of us spend a lot of time playing dragon based games' Chasing Dragons were fantastic and we should expect more from them in the future! Their success at Metal Fringe indicates they will be successful in the music business while having fun doing what they love! We do hope so!

The penultimate act of the night was AB Negative, based in Halifax, where many of their gigs take place (for example Cookies Bar on the 22nd ofSeptember and then Escobar in Leeds on the 23rd of October). Their influences include Roxette (a personal favourite of Jason's), Queens of the Stone Age and System of a Down and they aspire to play at Leeds Festival or Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. They have been on various tours since they formed in 2002, including the Kerrang R.I.P. tour and they have toured with the UK Subs. They have played at the Edinburgh Fringe and have also had a successful mini-tour of their own. They have recently established their own independent label after their deal with a promotional label was unsuccessful due to lack of gigs. They also have an EP out for free download and all money made through sales of their album (Sadness in Stasis) goes to their chosen charities; "Parkinson's UK" and "Macmillan" but for the night, they gave the proceeds of their album sales to "Martin House Hospice". All of this shows that they are committed to their music and they play for the love of it, not for the money. In our opinion, AB Negative have their own unique sound on stage and it was difficult to draw comparisons between them and any other band, which made them stand out on the night, for all the right reasons! It was clear to see that there was a lot of passion in their performance and we believe that the best way to experience AB Negative is definitely to go and see them live! They're great, kind hearted guys as well, always a pleasure.

Next up were Mishkin, who were the headline act of Saturday night - and deservedly so! They are a well known band thoughout West Yorkshire and many of the crowd that had been there since the start were there for Mishkin, not to mention all the late arrivals who turned up ready for the ear-blasting power. The crowd peaked during their performance proving that they delivered a show equal to, and exceeding, the standards expected. Bradie Nixon is a powerhouse behind his drum kit and provided a strong driving force for the rest of the band to play from, vocalist Ben Davy also delivered a strong performance, giving it his all and throwing out all the air in his lungs while he was singing. This may provide a slightly 'static' performance for for the size of the stage and all the movement from the guitarists, the safest thing he could do on stage was stay still! Overall the guys put on an amazing show! Cries for an encore could be heard before the applause for the last song had even peaked! Heading into one of the backstage rooms before coming out again gave the performance an even greater feeling of true star-power. While the crowd was definitely (loudly) appreciative of the band, you could tell the guys from Mishkin were almost humbled by the reaction they were getting from everyone in attendance (even the Empire barstaff!)...something they should become used to experiencing very quickly! Their 4-track EP "Row Away From The Rocks" is available now and is a must-own! They are also looking for helpful promoters and venues for their upcoming tour. So look out for that, and if you're in a position to give these guys a venue, do it! You won't be disappointed!

We arrived on Sunday fully prepared for a diminished crowd as the weekend came to a close and people got mentally prepared to restart work the next day...how wrong we were! The Empire was as full as it had been all weekend with Metalheads, Rockers and the odd person that had just wandered in off the street, all ready for another fantastic night!

Kicking off Sunday night's show was Road to Horizon. Having never seen the band perform before, we felt that they put on a brilliant show and opened the final night of Metal Fringe perfectly and we'll definitely be seeing them again! We were content with standing there, reviewing, however you had to cheer or move about, they just had that effect! The crowd wasn't expected to be a big crowd, as it was only early, even so the bands backstage and everyone involved in the event was so enchanted with their sound that they couldn't stay away. Road to the Horizon is a much appreciated band for being down to earth and really good musically! The singer Danny Kingsbury had a great voice which was definitely amazing to witness, while guitarist Mark Thirkall was clearly leaving it all on the stage, the sweat dripping from his fingers as he picked and shredded his way through the set. Having had the pleasure of meeting them backstage they informed us that they have always had a passion for music, so started the band in 2007 as hobby which then developed into a career. Listing their major influences as Parkway Drive, Funeral for a Friend and Rise Against. They also have a single for sale (Remember Who You Are - a fantastic track!), and are releasing an EP in October, as well as shooting their debut music video next year. In the future, they are playing alongside Attack Attack (UK) and Everything Burns at the Birmingham O2 on the 20th of September 2011. In the future the band hope to become signed to a record label and play festivals/gig aboard. They would also like to thank 'Vintage Guitars' which is one of their sponsors. When we asked for their opinion on the Metal Fringe, they said that it was 'well organised and promoted' and we have to agree!

Following Road to Horizon were State of Error, who started as a three piece in 2006 with vocalist Richard joining in July 2007 to complete the band. We really enjoyed their performance as they played a wide range of catchy pop-punk songs which were really easy to sing along with! They had an excellent stage presence making their performance very energetic. State of Error only had a day to prepare as they were a late booking to fill a void left by another band, yet they still wowed the audience as always with a full set ready and practiced. Despite not being a "metal" band, the crowd loved the performance, from front to back they were moving and singing along. State of Error take their influences from Muse, Avenged Sevenfold and Green Day and one of the big aspirations for the band is to be able to support one of these bands. When asked what inspires them they said that real life experiences are a major component in their song writing, creating meaningful songs that relate to a wide audience. They also aspire to play at Wembley or Download Festival; a stepping stone to this is their upcoming performance at Bingley Live Festival this year. They currently have an album out and they are promoting this by having a free song available for download up until the 1st of September. It is available from www.stateoferror.com or their face book page and their message is 'Thank you to our fans'. They are always up for a gig, and they never disappoint!
Next up was Bludger! Ainsley and Paul formed the band and it became fully formed last year adding a few important key members. Their influences are Machine head, ACDC, 90's metal and they thought it was important that their music contained 'Groove' in order to set them apart from other bands. We thought that the guys put a cracking set together and pulled off an incredible performance! Most of their songs on the night had a general beat which made it easy get into. For the guitarists, two words - simply amazing! We hope that in the future they create a few more songs with some solos so the guys can really let loose! We also hope they mix it up a bit, possibly having a hard-core drum solo in a couple tracks as well, because we know he has the talent! Overall, they made a good impression on us and everyone there! They perform for their love of music, and they informed us that they prefer to play small gigs rather than festivals and they are hoping to commence a European tour next year. They felt that a lot of hard work had been put into the Metal Fringe which made it overall a successful and organised event. In the next year they hope to complete their album and shoot their first music video.
The Little Black Hearts took to the stage next and wowedus with theirperformance which was full of emotion and a resounding drum beat which was prominent in a few of their songs. They are influenced by Hollywood Glam, Motörhead and Jack White. They told us that they enjoy the behind the scenes work, for example the setting up of the stage, sound check and build up to the event, just as much as actually playing - as it all adds to the atmosphere of the event. This was definitely evident as all throughout the night they could be seen helping out the other bands with equipment and getting the stage ready for each act…proof of the brotherhood evident in the metal community. They aspire to play at the Cuckoo Festival or at Wembley, and they honestly admitted to originally starting the band in an effort to attract female attention. Unfortunately, they do not have upcoming gigs, but are in the process of recording an EP, which we are sure is eagerly anticipated.
The penultimate act of the night was Propane Penny, who started as a three-piece 2 years ago and they have had a few line-up changes over the years but are now settled. Compared to the other bands that played, John Gordon, the lead vocalist, had a much softer voice, which added a new sound to the Metal Fringe. As a self confessed non-metal band, they received a great reaction from the crowd and were hugely surprised when there were calls for an encore! Watching the band we didn't get the feeling that a non-metal band was playing - hard riffs, great vocals and solid drum work gave the hard-rockers enough power that people were appreciative of the effort they were putting in. Chris and Andy from Lifescreen (who unfortunately had to cancel their own appearance) could both be seen in the crowd enjoying the performance. Propane Penny count their major influences as Blink 182, U2 and Less Than Jake. When we were talking to them, they revealed that instead of aspiring to play at Festivals, they would much prefer to play at the football ground of the football teams that they support - a very different aspiration to every other band we interviewed. They are recording their first EP in October and expressed a desire to play at the Metal Fringe again next year, as well was hoping to play at venues outside of Yorkshire - we think they won't have a problem getting bookings!
Headliners for the final night were Karma Slave, who were eagerly anticipated by everyone in the crowd, and the organisers! Vocalist Izzy Roads has a larger than life stage presence, interacting well with the crowd, making a variety of jokes as well as conversation throughout the performance, building up the atmosphere even higher as their set continued. He has a natural ability to entertain and he moved around on stage a lot, making the best use of the space available. Drummer Matt "Hammer" Hölmes definitely stood out for us as well, performing tricks with his sticks before and during each track. Wearing a DragonForce t-shirt on the night, it's clear that his influences are most likely Dave Mackintosh (DragonForce) and James "The Rev" Sullivan (Avenged Sevenfold), as he has a very similar theatrical, speed-drumming style. It was a good show overall, but at times we felt that the vocals were a little quiet and were sometimes overpowered by the instruments. This was, however, due to technical problems as they were not the only band to experience this on the night. The crowd called for an encore, but the band was reluctant to play as they'd already exhausted their set and would have to repeat a song - the crowd didn't care and went just as wild as they had the first time around. As an end to the Metal Fringe, the combination of sleaze-metal, light and humorous comments and the altogether great vibe, made it a night, and an event, to remember.

We would like to thank everyone involved in the event: The organisers - Neil Short , Beth Hallam, Chris Charlesworth and David Massen - for giving us the opportunity to attend this event; The owners and staff of the Empirefor allowing the festival to be held there, and for having such a great venue; The bands that took part who gave it their all and left it all on stage; The volunteers for all their work with tickets, stage prep and security; and the crowds for giving the whole weekend such a great atmosphere! Based on the success of this year, we are sure that everyone is now eagerly awaiting next years show! A great event and for a great cause in Martin House Hospice, and even though the fringe is over, you can still donate here!

- Philippa Smith, Tasha Smith and Simon Frost
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